Outdoor hockey is coming to TD Ameritrade Park next winter.
UNO and the Omaha Lancers are set to play outdoor hockey games next season, against North Dakota and the Lincoln Stars, respectively, according to sources. A press conference to announce "a unique winter sporting event to be held at TD Ameritrade Park during 2013" is set for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the downtown stadium. The 24,000-seat TD Ameritrade Park serves as the home of baseball's College World Series. Tuesday's press conference will feature representatives from the Omaha Sports Commission, Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, UNO, the Lancers and the Stars. North Dakota and UNO are rivals in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Mavericks coach Dean Blais is a legend in North Dakota, having directed the team to two national championships and a runner-up finish while serving as head coach from 1994-95 through 2003-04 and compiling a record of 262-115-33. This is his third season as UNO coach. The Lancers and Stars are two of the most successful franchises in the United States Hockey League, a junior league with high-profile talent. Outdoor hockey games, played at both football and baseball stadiums, have risen in popularity at both the college and NHL levels since Michigan and Michigan State played an outdoor game at Michigan State's football stadium in 2001. A crowd of 25,864 turned out Jan. 15 at Progressive Field, home of baseball's Cleveland Indians, for a game between Ohio State and Michigan. Attendance was 38,456 for a Jan. 7 doubleheader at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, for the matchups of Vermont-Massachusetts and New Hampshire-Maine. A record crowd of 113,411 gathered at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 11, 2010, for a game between Michigan and Michigan State. The NHL's Winter Classic, a regular-season matchup played outdoors each of the past five years, has become a highlight of the regular season. Contact the writer: 402-444-1027, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/RWhiteOWH