Sponsor Coors Light Wants NHL Stadium Series in Rockies

Brewer Wants to Bring 'Rocky Mountain Fresh' to Outdoor Hockey

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If Coors Light has its way, next year's Coors Light NHL Stadium Series will feature some Rocky Mountain Freshness.

Coors Light Explorer delivers beer at Stadium Series
Coors Light Explorer delivers beer at Stadium Series

The title sponsor of the NHL's new series of four outdoor hockey games has asked the league to bring the event to its backyard of Denver in 2015 after stops at New York's Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Chicago's Soldier Field this year, said Adam Dettman, director of sports & entertainment marketing for MillerCoors.

NHL CMO Brian Jennings confirmed the Colorado Avalanche are under consideration to host a Stadium Series game next year.

Following the success of its six-year old Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the league scheduled six outdoor games this season: the four NHL Stadium Series games being played across the U.S.; the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in Vancouver, Canada on March 2; and the Winter Classic, which took place at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. on New Year's Day.

Washington D.C. is already set as the location for the 2015 Winter Classic. The number of Stadium Series games next year, and their locations, have not been decided yet.

Mr. Dettman said the brewer's so pleased with its multi-year title sponsorship of the Series, its pushing for Denver to be in the rotation next year. And what do you know? The game could be played at Coors Field.

"It would be special no doubt," said Mr. Dettman on Sunday, as the New York Rangers defeated the rival New Jersey Devils 7-3 in the first hockey game played at Yankee Stadium. "Again, the heritage of the brand, being from the Rocky Mountains, we'd welcome that."

The NHL's Mr. Jennings joked that Mr. Dettman brings up the topic at every meeting. The league is "absolutely" considering an outdoor Avalanche game next season. "It's just a great marketplace and a deserving marketplace," said Mr. Jennings.

The ability of the NHL to pull off an outdoor game in Southern California Saturday night bodes well for Coors Light, said Mr. Dettman. The LA game opens the possibilities of future events being held in other warm weather sites in California, Arizona and Florida. With multiple outdoor games rather than the two played in 2012, the NHL can also "backfill" by revisiting markets such as Boston where the Winter Classic otherwise wouldn't return for years, Mr. Jennings said.

The third Stadium Series game will take place tonight at the House that Ruth Built, with the Rangers vs. New York Islanders. The Stadium Series then concludes in the Windy City, with the Chicago Blackhawks taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins March 1.

At the halfway point of the inaugural Stadium Series, Coors Light gives the new event a "super cold thumbs-up," said Mr. Dettman. "If the momentum keeps up from the first two, we see nothing but upside here. We're thrilled."

During Sunday's at Yankee Stadium, the brewer activated its sponsorship by having its "Explorer" characters from TV commercials mingle with fans. New York hockey fans posed for pictures with the characters as they made in-game "beer deliveries" to the stands.

The Stadium Series has generated nice numbers so far for broadcast partner NBC, according to Nielsen. Sunday afternoon's Rangers-Devils averaged 2.079 million viewers, and a 1.3 fast national TV rating. With the exception of Winter Classics, that made it the most-watched and highest-rated regular-season game ever on NBC.

Outdoor games have "been a very good thing for the NHL in terms of being responsive to marketer's needs for new, exciting and relevant assets rather than the same old packages of logo rights [and] one all-star game a year," said Jim Andrews, VP-content strategy for EG, a sponsorship, research and consulting firm owned by WPP.

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