by El Gato News
Saturday, Feb. 21 a sellout crowd of 70,205 fans filled Levi’s Stadium for Northern California’s first ever outdoor NHL game. Unfortunately, the impressive turnout and exciting environment did not promise the success of San Jose. Bay Area fans were let down by the 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in a game that was vital to the Sharks’ chances at seeing the playoffs this season. The magnitude of the event made the loss that much more painful for the team. Coach Todd McLellan reflected on the disappointment, saying, “This was our show, these were our fans. This was Sharks Territory, if you want. They showed up in droves.”
The game was tied from the end of the first period until the beginning of the third. The first goal was scored by Los Angeles’s fourth-line forward Kyle Clifford. Brent Burns of the Sharks responded with a goal at the end of first period. A goal by Kings forward Marian Gaborik early in the third period proved to be the game changer. The Sharks fought hard, but to no avail. High expectations from the beginning transformed into low hanging heads of Sharks fans as the game came to a close.
Despite the less than satisfactory closing, the event leading up to the loss was quite the success. The NHL and its fans ventured out of the hockey world and visited the home of the 49ers. This event provided the Sharks with the biggest stage they have ever performed on. Fans showed their eagerness to adapt to the football traditions by tailgating and playing street hockey in the Great America parking lot across from Levi’s. Festivities continued even after the puck drop, including two stellar performances by Melissa Etheridge and lead singer of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty. If the Sharks had put on a performance as good as these artists the bay area would be celebrating a victory.
El Gato News was lucky enough to have a first-hand interview with NHL Sharks COO John Tortora three days after the game. We sat down with him for a Q & A at the open skate event for SAP Center season ticket holders in Levi’s Stadium. Following is the Q & A with NHL Sharks COO, John Tortora:
What was the inspiration behind making the outdoor game?
The inspiration behind it was to create an event where all of us could celebrate the strength of Sharks Territory. And we can create a platform for all of our fans to celebrate what has been 20 great years in San Jose. We wanted to be involved with Levi Stadium because it offered a chance for 70,000 sharks fans to come and watch the Sharks game and celebrate the great game of hockey. That was the inspiration.
How do you think it went in terms of success in planning and turn out except for the loss
The whole event was better than I imagined, from seeing fans tailgate in the parking lot before the game. To seeing all our fans wear their Teal jerseys to the game and hang out in Spectator Plaza before the game.
Taking their pictures with the shark head and just having fun. Watching the fans in the stands with every seat filled. To doing the jaws thing when the team went on the power play was fantastic. Watching, hearing our fans cheering/ booing the Kings.
Cheering our alumni when they were introduced prior to the game. All of it was fantastic. All of it was great. A great display of Sharks territory.
How do you like being COO?
I’ve been here 4 years and second year as coo
I’m from Worcester, Massassuchettes
Events like Saturday make it all a lot of fun. And we have a few more things schedule. We have our top development team moving to San Jose next year from Worcestor, Massasuchetts. We are going to announce our Alumni association in the coming months. Next year is our 25-year anniversary. So we have more events coming up. Maybe not as big as the stadium game but things that our fans can enjoy.
How was the rink built up and what was the cost?
No cost to us. The way it works is, since the league in essence is taking one of our home games. So the game would have been played at the SAP center against the Kings. So what the league does it looks at your revenues from your past games against the Kings. They pay the sharks to take the game as a home game against the Kings in terms of attendance. The league in turn takes on all the risk of hosting this game. We help the league sell the tickets, All at the leagues cost. We had to help sell tickets because the league buys us out of our home game.
The league handles all the cost, decorations; the design of the field you saw was all at the Leagues cost. So its actually the League event. So the league gets the revenue for the game. The people who maintain the ice. Was all the leagues cost.
So the league gets the revenue of our game. All at the leagues costs. We had to help sell tickets. Because the league buys us out of our home game.
The ice costs about $20,00 a day to maintain for an outdoor rink.
Sources: San Jose Mercury News, Maddie Abene