Cardiff could play host to a series of major-league ice hockey games as part of new proposals worth millions to Wales’ economy.
America’s National Hockey League (NHL) would annually hold a televised league match in the capital in a proposed three to five-year deal with the Millennium Stadium.
The deal would begin in 2014 to coincide with a major sporting year for Cardiff, when the city is recognised as the European Capital of Sport and its new ice arena is launched.
Initial support has been received from the Welsh Government and the Millennium Stadium, giving the green light for further negotiations with the NHL.
A UK ice hockey delegation is expected to fly over to New York in August to continue negotiations and pitch its vision for holding major-league ice hockey in Cardiff.
Cardiff Devils owner Paul Ragan, the brainchild behind the lucrative vision for the city, said the proposals could have a greater economic impact than Wales’ hosting of the Ryder Cup in 2010.
The 44-year-old said: “It would be fantastic if we could pull it off.
“The Millennium Stadium is one of the top facilities in the country and around Europe, and it would be a fantastic way of celebrating the stadium and bringing a festival of ice to the city.
“It would be a great opportunity to promote ice sports and encourage people to want to skate. This would be a fantastic opportunity to launch it on a worldwide platform.”
Initial discussions with the NHL over bringing American ice hockey games to the Millennium Stadium began in March.
Surrounding the NHL games, Cardiff would hold a series of ice sports events, including local ice hockey games and “winter wonderland” ice skating for families in the Millennium Stadium.
The Millennium Stadium would be able to pack in more spectator seats due to the standard ice hockey rink requiring less space than a rugby pitch.
Mr Ragan, from Cowbridge, said reaching a capacity crowd of more than 75,000 could set a world-record for a NHL match.
“It would be impressive and I think it would draw a capacity crowd,” said the father of four. “I think there would be a big draw from Europe. Ice hockey is big in Scandinavia and other parts, so people would come to Cardiff to watch a game like that.”
Mr Ragan said the biggest challenge faced by the delegates would be persuading the NHL to support holding such events as part of their main league season.
The sport’s bosses would also need to consider time zone issues for broadcasting the matches live to US audiences.