Ever since the famed Ice Bowl game between the Packers and Cowboys, Lambeau Field's playing surface has been known as the "frozen tundra." Well, the UW and Ohio State hockey teams will give new meaning to the term.
Lambeau Field will be converted into an outdoor ice hockey stadium for the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic on Feb. 11.
"The Packers organization is honored to join two outstanding collegiate hockey programs in creating a new chapter in the history of Lambeau Field," said John Jones, Packers Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
"Wisconsin and Ohio State have produced many great football players for the Packers and the NFL. Now the Badger and Buckeye hockey players get a chance to compete on Lambeau Field."
"Our goal was to create special events like this at Lambeau Field ever since the stadium renovation was completed nearly two years ago," Jones added. "The Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic will bring a mid-winter economic boost to the Green Bay area as we showcase collegiate hockey on football's hallowed ground."
The Badgers and the Buckeyes will face off at 3 p.m. on Feb. 11.
"The game itself will be the highlight of a weekend of ice-related activities at Lambeau," Jones said. The game will also serve as the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Benefit game, with a portion of the proceeds supporting the Hall of Fame.
Jones said the college hockey contest would not have come about without the cooperation of the coaches, athletic directors and officials from both schools, as well as the assistance of Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
"I am very pleased and excited that our men's hockey team will have the opportunity to take part in this historic event," said UW Athletics Director Barry Alvarez. "I know Coach (Mike) Eaves, his staff and players are looking forward to it. It's going to be a great event for players and fans alike."
Jones added that a February hockey game at the renovated stadium is a natural fit. "Lambeau Field will be buzzing with activity, much like Packers game days," Jones said. "We're expecting a real festival atmosphere. Fans can enjoy the food and refreshments at the concessions stands, while taking in the fast-paced action on the ice."
The portable rink will be set up on the north half of Lambeau Field. Total seating of 38,000-40,000 is expected for the game, including indoor club seats and private boxes. Portable bleachers will be placed on the field at the south end of the rink.
"This is going to be an event, not just a hockey game," said Eaves. "It will be something that the players, coaching staff and everyone involved will remember for a lifetime. It will be something for these young men to share with their kids, that they played in a football stadium in the middle of February in Green Bay."
Ohio State hockey coach John Markell said it's an honor to be part of the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic. "This game will bring a lot of recognition to college hockey. Only six teams in North America have had the opportunity to play in an outdoor game in a large stadium and we're privileged to be one of them," Markell said.
"Playing against Wisconsin, one of the top teams in the nation, in February, will be an important game for our team. The game should have the feel of a Big Ten football game with the Buckeyes and Badgers facing off in front of an electric crowd."
The crowd might need electric blankets, depending on the weather. Of course, Packers' fans are used to cold, wintry weather for football games, but it could be even more brutal in February.
The game will also feature the return of several Green Bay Gamblers, an amateur hockey team. Adam Burish, A.J. Degenhardt, Josh Engel, Kyle Klubertanz and Garrett Suter are expected to be in the line-up for the Badgers, with former Gamblers head coach Mark Osiecki now serving as an assistant coach at Wisconsin. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are captained by former Gamblers defenseman Nate Guenin.
UW hockey's program has traditionally tried to hold some events around the state. For several years, the Badgers hosted a holiday tournament at the Bradley Center.
Tickets for the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic will be $24 for adults, $16 for UW students, $14 for children and $45 for indoor club seats.