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Column: Ohio State and Columbus are missing out on some fun outdoor hockey events

The Buckeyes wouldn’t have to go up to Cleveland for outdoor games if Ohio Stadium was winterized.

Ohio State Buckeyes v. Michigan Wolverines Frozen Diamond Faceoff 1-15-2012

Growing up near Buffalo, I developed a love for hockey at an early age. Much like the Buffalo Bills, seasons for the Sabres always ended in failure. Even the year when they made the Stanley Cup Finals, the appearance was tainted by Brett Hull’s goal which won Lord Stanley’s Cup for the Dallas Stars.

Even though the goal according to hockey rules was a good goal, it will always be “No Goal” to me. Hull will always get some extra hate from me because of it.

When I moved to Columbus, my allegiances expanded to the Blue Jackets. After living in Ohio’s capital city since 2005, if you asked me now who my favorite team is, I’d say the Blue Jackets over the Sabres now. I have been a Blue Jackets quarter-season ticket holder since the 2019-20 season, and even though Columbus is struggling, I still have a great time at the 10-12 games I’m at during the season.

One thing that has been irking me for years when it comes to hockey in Columbus is how the team hasn’t partnered with Ohio State to get an outdoor game at Ohio Stadium. There have been outdoor games at Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium, and even TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

How is Ohio State going to be standing on the outside looking in on something like this? The scenes for a game at The Horseshoe would be outstanding.

2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

I get there is a hurdle for putting on an event like this. The stadium would have to be winterized to be able to handle the possible cold temperatures that could be seen in Columbus on New Year’s Day. I don’t have the exact numbers on how much a progress like that would cost, but I would imagine it would be somewhere around $3 million dollars. Don’t quote me on this, it’s just a figure I think I’ve heard in the past.

Obviously I know that amount of money is a lot, but is it really that much when you are Ohio State? Besides, athletic director Gene Smith already announced in the fall that Ohio State would be adding a “facility maintenance fee” to tickets. As if tickets for Buckeye football games weren’t already out of hand, it sounds like they only going to get more expensive in the coming years.

Ohio State is going to have to winterize Ohio Stadium eventually. With the upcoming expansion of the College Football Playoff, it’s likely we see the Buckeyes hosting a home playoff game at some point. December football games are unheard of, but soon enough they are going to become the norm. While Smith may want any Ohio State home playoff games to be moved to the soulless dome stadium in Indianapolis, the backlash would be unimaginable if Ohio State actually passed on a home playoff game at Ohio Stadium.

The school is already missing out on some cool events because they haven’t yet winterized the stadium. It certainly will be a fun atmosphere when Ohio State’s men’s hockey team takes on Michigan at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland next weekend. The game would be even better if it was taking place at Ohio Stadium, especially since it has been a bit since an Ohio State team has beat Michigan at The Horseshoe.

It’s not just the men’s hockey team that deserves an outdoor game at the iconic college football stadium. We have the reigning women’s hockey national champions at Ohio State. There are so many great talents currently on the women’s hockey team, and they should get a chance to play at Ohio Stadium. Just imagine how awesome it would be if there was a men’s and women’s outdoor hockey doubleheader next weekend.

Plus, winterizing the stadium would put the wheels in motion to bring an NHL Winter Classic to Columbus. Seattle has been in the league for like five minutes, and they already are slated to host next year’s NHL Winter Classic. Columbus has been in the league for over 20 years and an outdoor game here is so far away. It feels like if the Blue Jackets were to get an outdoor game it would end up being up in Cleveland, which would be embarrassing.

Hopefully Ohio State, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the NHL get this all sorted out sometime in the near future. An event like this is way too much to not have happened yet. Then again, maybe after signing Johnny Gaudreau in the offseason, the league is hoping Columbus tanks well enough to win the Connor Bedard sweepstakes to give the outdoor debut for the Blue Jackets a little more star power.