Outdoor N.H.L. hockey will make its debut in New Jersey next year when MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford will host a four-team doubleheader of sorts in the league’s so-called Stadium Series.
The New Jersey Devils will play the Philadelphia Flyers on the night of Saturday, Feb. 17, and the Islanders will play the Rangers on the same ice the following day, the National Hockey League announced on Saturday.
The league said it expects more than 75,000 spectators per game, and to continue its streak of 37 consecutive sellouts for regular season outdoor games, which began in their modern form in 2003.
“It’s a big N.F.L. stadium and it’s our goal to bring it to life in a way that, frankly, we haven’t seen that much,” said Steve Mayer, the N.H.L.’s chief content officer. “We are going to get super creative and highlight the area.”
Mayer and Dean Matsuzaki, the league’s executive vice president for events, said they had long hoped to stage an outdoor game at MetLife Stadium. But they said the logistics there are more complicated than at many other stadiums because it is the home of two N.F.L. teams, the Giants and the Jets, and there is less time to access the facilities for preparation. But they noted that the size of the venue makes it possible to accommodate four teams, with scheduled practice time and recreational ice time with their families, for all four teams.
The teams will be scheduled off on the following Monday in case bad weather over the weekend forces either or both games to be postponed. The exact seating capacity will depend on construction of the lower seating area that is scheduled to take place in preparation for the 2026 FIFA men’s World Cup.
In 2014, the Rangers played the Devils and the Islanders, three days apart, at Yankee Stadium. Each game drew about 50,000 fans. The largest regular season outdoor N.H.L. game was held at Michigan Stadium in 2014 when an announced crowd of 105,491 fan watched the Detroit Red Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs. The last outdoor game held in the New York area was the Winter Classic on a frigid New Year’s Day in 2018 between the Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field, when 41,000 fans sat through temperatures that started at 7 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning and peaked at 25.
Mayer said organizers hope to bolster next year’s event with additional entertainment, youth hockey games and music. Asked if they would seek New Jersey natives, like Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen to perform, Mayer asked a reporter if he had Springsteen’s phone number, adding with a laugh, “We’d like to talk to him immediately.”