In a time where good news is hard to come by, NHL fans have been greeted with some good news, with the NHL announcing that they will consider North Dakota as a location to play playoff games when the time comes. With nothing etched in stone, there is no guarantee that the season will resume in North Dakota. However, it has been made known that Ralph Engelstad Arena is a suitable location to hold NHL games with or without fans.
Ralph Engelstad Arena in North Dakota is just the first location the NHL and NHLPA have identified to be a potential location to play the remainder of the NHL season. It is likely that the NHL and NHLPA come together to find multiple other locations around the country that can be deemed safe enough to play the rest of the season. Until then, Ralph Engelstad Arena is the only one who has welcomed the NHL with open arms.
The Ralph Engelstad Arena holds 11,640 people and would be more than suitable to hold a stadium with fans if the time comes when the NHL allows fans. This stadium has also been used for major events in the past like the 2005 World Junior Championship and is also used for the University of the North Dakota hockey team.
It is no guarantee that when the NHL returns there will be no fans; in fact, it is most likely that there won’t be. However, some NHL teams are preparing for several different possibilities. The Carolina Hurricanes reportedly have a task force figuring out different scenarios if they are allowed to host NHL games. They are preparing for the potential to hold anywhere from no fans, to 10 percent of fans, to 50 percent, all the way up to 100 percent. So it is likely that the people who work at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in North Dakota will be preparing for all those scenarios as well.
North Dakota is a great spot to start out with considering it is a pretty neutral site for a lot of Western Conference teams, but it could be problematic if that is the only location they ever find. Even though it is borderline impossible to hold all NHL games in one arena, let’s pretend that is what is going to happen. First off the NHL would have to find nearby hotels who can afford to find room for 31 different NHL teams. It would be tough for some teams closer to the east coast considering if fans are allowed there likely won’t be many fans who will travel halfway across the country to watch a game.
It would be ideal if the NHL could identify multiple locations around the country to play the remainder of the games. That may be a tough task, but the NHL could run a lot smoother if they could manage to find a different arena for each division to play home games in. For now, though North Dakota is a good start for the NHL, it still seems that regardless of where the NHL ends up playing the rest of their games, it will still be a little while before we see NHL games played this year.