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Komets outdoors? Yes, please

Admittedly, it's not the sentiment you want to let slip on a day when the temperature clings stubbornly to single digits and a razor-blade wind scythes across the snowfields.

(And you don't hate it when the wind does that scything thing? Especially across snowfields?)

Anyway ... yeah, it's cold out there. But a great big mittened high-five anyway upon the news that the Komets are going to be playing outside in Toledo next year.

The Komets and Kalamazoo will be playing the Walleye in the first two outdoor games in ECHL history next season, and hallelujah for that. Not only will it bring an idea to fruition whose time has come, it will be doing so in a baseball park (Fifth Third Field in downtown Toledo) that's one of the gems of the minor leagues.

I got the opportunity to see a Mudhens game there 12 years ago and, outside of Parkview Field, it's the best venue I know. A lot of it's an antecedent to Parkview -- it's right in the heart of downtown, like Parkview, and it's sunken below street level, like Parkview -- and it ingeniously incorporates existing architecture surrounding it. That's especially true in the right-field corner, where a section of seats abuts an old warehouse that looms over that part of the field.

So, that's cool. And, of course, the Komets playing outside in it is even cooler.

A few years ago, when the NHL unveiled the Winter Classic that was the birth mother of the outdoor hockey craze, I suggested a minor-league version in Parkview Field. The logistics made it impossible at the time, alas. But at least now it's come to fruition somewhere.

And I'm jacked, frankly. The Winter Classic has swiftly become my New Year's Day tradition -- replacing the day-long binge of high-profile bowl games TV and the bowl people have so thoughtfully watered down over the years -- and so the Komets getting in on the fun is only perfect. They'll play in Fifth Third on Jan. 3 after Kalamazoo plays there Dec. 27, just so you know.


I'm already bundling up.

Ben Smith's blog.