The Heritage Classic hoped to be played in Winnipeg next season is in danger of being postponed for one year.
The NHL and Winnipeg Blue Bombers are struggling to find a date that works for both sides. The NHL wants to play the game in late December while the football club is pushing for a February date.
The Bombers don’t want the game played that close to the Grey Cup while February won’t work for the NHL due to its all-star game and other soon-to-be announced outdoor games.
Both sides are hopeful a compromise can be reached but time is running out for a game in the 2015-16 season.
Bombers CEO Wade Miller is pushing for a greater gap between the two games and wants the NHL to pick up costs, believed to be more than $500,000, associated with keeping the stadium operational through a Winnipeg winter.
Many expected Winnipeg’s Heritage Classic to be announced this weekend at the NHL All-Star Game in Columbus. There, the league will reportedly announce its full slate of outdoor games for 2016, including the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium (Boston-Montreal), and two Stadium Series games in Colorado and Minnesota.
Winnipeg, though, sounds like it’s in serious doubt.
What this means for the Heritage Classic remains to be seen. The All-Canadian event has been held three times — 2003 in Edmonton, 2011 in Calgary and, most recently, last year in Vancouver — and the 2016 reincarnation was set to be played at Investors Group Field, the 33,500-seat stadium at the University of Manitoba.
The stadium, which was opened just two years ago, will play host to the 2015 CFL Grey Cup championship game on Nov. 29, 2015. Per the Free Press, the Blue Bombers see the events being held so close together as “a potential issue for the CFL’s showcase weekend, fearing the hockey game would overshadow the football game and cannibalize both ticket sales and corporate sponsorship.”