Since we are now just about 3 weeks away from the 2012 NHL Winter Classic (brought to you by Bridgestone!), we can start to think about what might be for 2013. The Winter Classic has been a huge success for the NHL. It’s great exposure for the sport since they advertise the hell out of it. HBO’s 24/7 series provides even more publicity and interest for the event. It’s also is a great way to bring in huge attendance numbers and revenues for the home team. If you think about it, most NHL arenas hold around 20,000 people or so. Now you take that game and hold it in a football or baseball stadium that holds 50,000+ fans and you charge astronomical prices for tickets, and that’s a big spike in revenue that these teams love to see! So who will be the next lucky host of this great event? Here are a few choices…
Yankee Stadium (Bronx, NY) – This is an obvious candidate, but I’m not so sure about 2013 for several reasons. For starters, the Rangers would likely be the host team of a game in Yankee Stadium. And considering they are already playing in this year’s Classic (albeit on the road), I think the NHL would like to stay away from using them in back-to-back years. Plus, Yankee Stadium hosts the Pinstripe Bowl for which the contract ends in 2013. So I’m not sure if they’d be able to convert Yankee Stadium from a football stadium to hockey rink in a matter of days. However, in 2014 look for them to be the leading candidate. I’d say Rangers vs Islanders or Devils.
Fedex Field (Washington DC) – The Capitals played the role as visitors in last years Winter Classic so they certainly would be owed the chance to host the event. Despite their struggles this season, the Capitals remain one of the most marketable teams in the league thanks to Alex Ovechkin. However, we have seen some issues with weather lately with cities like Pittsburgh and Chicago. It will definitely be cold in DC in January, but cold enough to keep the ice in good shape? I’m sure they can pull it off. I’d like to see the Caps host a team like Tampa and watch Ovechkin and Stamkos face off.
The Big House (Ann Arbor, Michigan) – In December of 2010, the Michigan Wolvereines hosted the Michigan State Spartans in an outdoor hockey game which saw 104,000 people in attendance to watch. This is currently the world record for most people to attend a hockey game. I would love to see what the Detroit Red Wings could do if they had the opportunity to host this game here next year. They have many great rivalries and since they already played the Blackhawks in Chicago in the 2008 Winter Classic, I could see them hosting either the St. Louis Blues or Toronto Maple Leafs. I’m sure it would have to coordinate with the University, but this could be an epic event.
Coors Field (Denver, CO) – Here is another option that I like. Playing in the thin Colorado air would certainly be an interesting event to see. The Avalanche could host a couple of rivals like the Red Wings (although doubtful the NHL would make them be bridesmaids twice), Vancouver Canucks or Minnesota Wild. However, the Avalanche are a good young team but not quite the NHL powerhouse that usually gets the nod in these games. So my guess is they would probably head elsewhere for 2013.
Met Life Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ) – Is that what Giants Stadium is called these days? I think so right? It will always be Giants Stadium to me so who knows. Anyway, considering Yankee Stadium might not work out next year, the NYC area could get a game at the Meadowlands. The Devils would be the likely host and a game with the Rangers would make the most sense. But again, we get back to the fact the Rangers are in the 2012 Winter Classic, so I doubt the NHL would send them on the road twice in a row. Maybe the Devils host the Islanders? Considering the Islanders suck, I’m not sure if that would work out either.
Target Field (Minneapolis, MN) – This is my favorite choice for next years Winter Classic. There is no other state in America who loves their hockey more than Minnesota. The Wild are somehow the best team in the NHL right now too, so if they keep things up they will be a quality team to have in it next year as well. The brand new baseball stadium would have plenty of amenities to entertain fans in between periods. Who would the Wild play? Why not the Dallas Stars? How great would it be if the Stars decided to wear their old Minnesota North Stars unis for the game? This could be a classic (pun intended) because the people of Minnesota would be going nuts. So let’s hope Minnesota wins the bid, and we all get to see Gordon Bombay getting plastered in the first row.