With the announcement of the Washington Capitals hosting the 2015 Winter Classic, the speculation on just where the game is played can begin. While the Caps will host it, who they’re playing and where they’ll play the game is still to be decided.
CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley was on hand at Capitals Convention for today’s announcement, and NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins says there are four possible locations in the region they’re looking at.
“Obviously, Nationals Park, with the relationship with Ted [Leonsis], but also the fact it’s a new ballpark [opened in 2008]. It’s a phenomenal ballpark. It’s downtown, it’s got a lot of the charm and element we like.
“We’ve been there and we know how good a ballpark it is. It’s available. I don’t think they’re playing baseball January 1. I would say that would be one of the first. But we’ll look at RFK. We’ll talk to FedEx. We’ll look at Camden Yards. We have blue skies for a little while and then we’ll focus on getting a deal done with one of the venues.”
The mention of Camden Yards in Baltimore is a curious one as it’s the more picturesque of the two baseball stadiums, yet Nationals Park is located in downtown Washington. Considering all Caps owner Ted Leonsis has done to get the game in Washington, you’d think he’d want it actually in the city, but he says that decision is up to the NHL and that’s OK.
Both FedEx Field and RFK Stadium would offer more seating than either Nats Park or Camden Yards, but the NFL schedule could keep them out of FedEx and RFK’s lack of aesthetics might keep the NHL away from there.
If they want a football stadium and they’re already scoping out Baltimore, perhaps M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, could be in play.
The Winter Classic might be played at Yankee Stadium at some point, but according to NHL chief operating officer John Collins, it won’t be next year. Or, for that matter, the year after that.
The reason? College football bowl game commitments.
“Yankee Stadium is obviously a special place, but we can’t get in there for the next couple of years,” Collins told the New York Times today.
As for other venues in the New York area, the NHL has looked at MetLife Stadium; however, given the Jets and Giants share the facility, could the NHL even book a date there?
Maybe they could do it at the home of the Mets, Citi Field in Queens – but really, if the Winter Classic is going to New York it should be at Yankee Stadium.
(The NHL has also reportedly looked at the Yale Bowl and West Point.)
Of note, Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor doesn’t appear to be in the NHL’s sights either. Collins told the Times that a Winter Classic hosted by the Detroit Red Wings would most likely be played at Comerica Park, the home of the Tigers.
Collins also spoke to the Times about the possibility of games on the West Coast (unlikely), Miami (don’t laugh, it put in a bid), Minnesota (possible), and Canada (not out of the question).
The NHL wants to bring outdoor hockey games to as many markets as possible.
Even Tampa Bay?
Well, never say never, but the league’s chief operating officer, John Collins, has a few other places in mind first.
In an interview with the Canadian Press, Collins mentioned Minnesota, St. Louis and Colorado as markets that “should be involved.”
Presumably he meant they “should be involved” as hosts, not just visitors.
“I think there are a lot of markets that would be fantastic,” Collins said. “I’d like to ultimately see these games not viewed as a regional matchup or a Canada game or a U.S. game, but really kind of a celebration of hockey. If you’re a hockey fan — whether you’re a Canadian hockey fan or an American hockey fan or a Flyers fan or Flames fan — these games are special and unique and you should be tuning in even if your favorite team isn’t playing in the game.
“It’s kind of that line that we use all the time: ‘Nobody ever canceled their Super Bowl party because they didn’t like the two teams that were playing in the game.’”
Collins makes a good point. Though for the record, if it’s Atlanta and Cincinnati in this year’s Super Bowl, party’s canceled.