The NHL is looking at several different venues, including the Rose Bowl and the Las Vegas strip, as the site for the annual New Year’s Day Winter Classic.
Flush from the biggest ratings for a hockey game in 34 years, the NHL is planning the next edition of the New Year’s Day outdoor Winter Classic and may be a position to demand cities bid on it.
The NHL received big ratings and lots of exposure for the Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Red Wings game played at Wrigley Field. The event was done right — both teams in retro uniforms, the weather appropriately frosty in the first NHL game played at an MLB ballpark, and the game a matchup of traditional rivals — so it’s no surprise the event killed in the ratings.
So the NHL wants more. It’s likely the NHL will look at making arrangements for the next two years (2010 and 2011), the better to market the Winter Classic. It’s no shocker Yankee Stadium is on the shortlist outlined by NHL chief operating officer John Collins: Putting the game in New York City with the Rangers in action would be a marketing dream come true. In another dream scenario: Gov. Ed Rendell has pitched the NHL on the idea of Penn State’s Beaver Stadium hosting Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Other venues under consideration: Pasadena’s Rose Bowl and an unnamed location on the Las Vegas Strip. (The Strip has actually hosted outdoor hockey on an 85-degree day, so it can be done — but there’s not a lot of winter romance associated with the Strip in January, as opposed to a cold, northern clime.) Collins also named Detroit, Washington, Philadelphia and Minneapolis as cities expressing interest in hosting the game. In Detroit, Comerica Park would be the only outdoor venue capable of hosting a game (though Michigan Stadium and its 100,000-plus capacity would be an intriguing choice), while both Washington (Nationals Park and FedEx Field) and Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park) have multiple potential venues.
In Minnesota there are two: TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field, the new home of the Minnesota Twins slated to open in 2010. It’s no secret the Minnesota Wild front office wants to see an outdoor game in the future, and during a recent lunch Kevin Smith, executive director of public affairs for the Twin, talked with us openly about his desire to see an NHL game played at his team’s new ballpark. Sounds like a match made in heaven.
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