The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 5-2 in the 2022 NHL Heritage Classic at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, but the draw of two nearby teams was not enough to set a new attendance record for the eight-year-old facility.
A sellout crowd of 26,119 was announced in stadium for the marquee hockey game, with fans coming to watch the team from 45 minutes north battle one from an hour to the south. However, the THF attendance record set at the 108th Grey Cup in December will remain intact.
Without significant additions made to the 23,218 seat stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 CFL championship game was the lowest attended since 1949. However 26,324 fans still came to the Donut Box to watch their hometown Hamilton Tiger-Cats lose in overtime to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Both events were listed as sellouts in the smaller CFL venue, but the Grey Cup can claim supremacy by a margin of 205 fans. This year’s Heritage Classic hosted the smallest crowd for an NHL outdoor game with fans in attendance since the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings played an exhibition game in Las Vegas in 1991.
Tim Hortons Field is the latest CFL facility to host a NHL game. Previous attendance numbers include 57,167 at Commonwealth Stadium in 2003, 41,002 at McMahon Stadium in 2011, 54,194 at BC Place in 2014, 33,240 at IG Field in 2016, 40,148 at BMO Field, 33,959 at TD Place in 2017 and 33,518 at Mosaic Stadium in 2019.
The Montreal Alouettes are the only CFL team yet to have an outdoor NHL game played at their home stadium.