Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

A KHL Winter Classic in Riga?

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On January 16, 2011 the first-ever Kontinental Hockey League Winter Classic might take place in Riga, Latvia. As of now it is only one of the proposals, where to host the Dinamo Riga – SKA St. Petersburg regular season game, as Arena Riga, due to a concert for Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls 75th anniversary, is already occupied, reports Kas Jauns.

It is proposed that the game could take place in the Skonto Stadium, just a couple of hundred metres away from Arena Riga. Skonto Stadium, built in 2000, is the national soccer stadium of Latvia, with a seating capacity of only 10,000 [just says how popular soccer is in Latvia]. The other options include playing the game in Liepaja Ice Arena or Inbox.lv Ice Arena, both having a capacity of only around 1000 seats.

Up until now, Dinamo Riga has played five of its home games outside Arena Riga – in the autumn of 2008-09 two games were held in Inbox.lv Ice Arena and another two were played in Espoo, Finland, while last season, also due to arena being already occupied by other event, one game against Severstal Cherepovets was held in Liepaja. Inbox.lv serves also as the training facility for both Dinamo Riga and HK Riga.

“As of now, a decision has not been made, because it is only one of the proposals. Of course, we would really appreciate playing againsta SKA in Arena Riga, but we very well understand that maestro [Raimonds Pauls] has an anniversary,” said Zigmars Priede, the Director of Hockey Operations. “That would be nothing new, as the world has already experience of organising such games.”

This game would not become the first Kontinental Hockey League game under clear sky, as the first-ever KHL All-Star game in 2009 was held in Red Square, Moscow. Unfortunately, at the time temperature in Moscow was far below zero [approx. -20 °C] and the game attracted only around 2000 spectators. Luckily, January in Riga should not be as tough.

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