The Winter Classic is morphing into a prestige and money-laden event that represents hockey’s best answer to the Super Bowl. In its first five years, the event has bounced around Northeastern cities, but the calls for more exotic locales have been picking up with each passing year.
Here are two especially interesting ideas from today’s round of stories.
Taking the Winter Classic out West
Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater paints an intriguing picture of a Winter Classic game in Colorado for Sports Illustrated:
Can you picture this?
It’s 25 degrees outside on an early January night and the Detroit Red Wings are taking to the ice against the Colorado Avalanche under the silhouette of the Rocky Mountains. More than 76,000 fans are packed inside Sports Authority Field in Denver, including — brace yourselves — TIM TEBOW.
One of the greatest rivalries in sports history — not just the NHL — is revived for one day at least. And in case the current Avs and Wings wouldn’t be enough of an attraction, there is the alumni game to consider.
I’m not quite sure the NHL should base its Winter Classic planning on the drawing power of a quarterback who might be old news by next year (Tebow), but the overall idea has some appeal. The alumni game would indeed be a beauty since many of those greats just recently retired. (Mike Keane was playing until 2010.)
Florida + retractable roof = gold?
The Miami Marlins have made a lot of noise during their transformation in the MLB’s off-season, so attempting to attract a Winter Classic to their new ballpark seems in character. It almost doesn’t sound completely ridiculous thanks to the building’s retractable roof, either.
Here are some interesting details about the bold idea via a great blog post by George Richards of the Miami Herald.
First, the ballpark would have toclose its retractable roof for about two weeks with the air conditioning running – and humidity lowered – while the ice sheet is built and maintained.
On game day, the roof would open for the outdoor affect.
One can only imagine the scenery an outdoor hockey game in the tropics would produce for a worldwide television audience. That imagery is what the Panthers would sell to the league. It’s a hook no other market has. Sure, Los Angeles has sun and palm trees; it doesn’t have the retractable roof.
Sure, the retractable roof seems kind of like cheating, but Richards writes that it would afford an opportunity to have NHL-quality ice. (That’s not necessarily a claim that could always be made during some of the rougher stretches of some Winter Classic games.) Beyond that, the lure of going to Miami for a combination of a New Year’s celebration and outdoor hockey is so stunning that my liver hurts just thinking about it.
As Richards wrote later on in that piece, a Winter Classic in Florida remains highly unlikely. That being said, the fact that the technology is in place to make that even feasible is exciting enough.
Moving on, tell us: where would you like to see the next Winter Classic? Feel free to base your choice(s) on whatever standards you’d like, from best overall experience to highest degree of difficulty and anything in between.