Professional Ice-Hockey is coming to New Zealand for the first time in June 2018 - to Wellington's Westpac Stadium, Auckland's Spark Arena, and Queenstown's Ice Arena down in Otago. Unfortunately, the loss of Christchurch's Lancaster Park, known for many years as AMI Stadium, through the earthquakes a few years ago, prevented the consideration of a match in Christchurch for this current tour.
Wellington's Westpac Stadium is to become the first outdoor stadium in the southern hemisphere to host a major outdoor ice-hockey game when the Ice Hockey classic visits NZ this month.
The June 23 game will be part of the three-game tour between the USA and Canada. The other two games will be at Auckland's Spark Arena and the Queenstown Ice Arena.
The Ice Hockey Classic played games in Australia in 2015, 2016 and 2017, including a game at the prestigious Rod Laver Stadium tennis venue in Melbourne. Now it is to be Wellington's Westpac Stadium turn for the outdoor hockey game. While Wellington does have notoriously bad weather in winter, it is unlikely such cold weather would affect the game.
Westpac Stadium CEO Shane Hamilton said hosting this event would be a first on many levels, "Building A NHL- sized ice hockey rink does present many technical challenges".
His team will have a 72 hour turnaround period to build, freeze, unfreeze and dismantle the rink, because they will have the ground ready for the next home Super Rugby game. There have been models for the event in Australia and North America. They expect the games to be successfully held and popular.
2018 ICE HOCKEY CLASSIC DATES
June 22: Spark Arena, Auckland
June 23: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
June 28: Queenstown Ice Arena, Queenstown