SI.com’s Dan Shaughnessy wrote an article today saying the NHL should get rid of the Winter Classic. I do agree this year’s game was unfortunate with the rain, but the Winter Classic is a great idea and should be continued. Now that this year’s game is over, it’s time to start thinking of future sites. Below is my rankings for possible sites of next year’s (and future years) Winter Classic.
First off, I want to spread around who gets to play in the Winter Classic. So sorry Montreal, Edmonton, Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburg, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia. If you played in the game before, then you are out of consideration (Montreal played Edmonton in the 2003 Heritage Classic which was the predecessor to the Winter Classic). The next issue becomes warm weather cities? I am not suggesting the game be played outside in the 70s (although apparently they have the technology for this) but what about teams with Dome’s nearby? The Stars playing in Cowboy Stadium sounds cool, but what about the Lightning in Tropicana Field (Rays)? I decided since Detroit hosted the Frozen Four in a dome to include domes. I know this will lose some of the appeal of having the game played in cold and snow and my ratings will reflect that.
Ohio Stadium (Columbus):
My number one choice would be to see a hockey game played in the Horseshoe. The Blue Jackets have had a great following since they arrived in Columbus and I could see 100,000 people coming out to see them play in the cities most beloved stadium. Just last month, Michigan played Michigan State in the Big House which was a huge success. So we know the game could work in a large college stadium. The issue I see though is the success of the team. They have only made it to the playoffs once (lost in Round 1) and do not have many household names. The NHL wants to promote this event and needs stars or good teams to do that.
Rogers Center (Toronto):
Obviously the Roof of the Stadium would be open for this. Toronto is a hockey crazed town and they would embrace this game. The stadium has already hosted games for North America’s 3 other major sports (MLB, NFL/CFL and NBA) so getting Hockey would be a nice way to round it off. Toronto is Canada’s biggest city and the Maple Leafs are Canada’s favorite team. Maple Leafs are an original 6 team. I see no reason why this game wouldn’t work.
BC Place (Vancouver):
Vancouver has been lobbying to get the Winter Classic played there. We know the city is capable of handling big events after hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. The game being played inside the inflatable dome wouldn’t be as exciting but getting the game into Canada for the first time would be a plus.
Cowboy Stadium (Dallas):
Jerry Jones has wasted no time getting large events to come to his palace of a stadium. Cowboys stadium has been open for just two years already will have hosted the Super Bowl, NBA All-Star game and annually hosts the Cotton Bowl and a College Football Kickoff game. The stadium can host big events and would have enough time between the Hockey Game and the Cotton Bowl (played on January 7th this year).
McMahon Stadium (Calgary):
McMahon Stadium is home the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders and is located on the University of Calgary. Even though it only holds approximately 46,000 (with temporary seating) it is Canada’s 5th largest stadium. The stadium has hosted the Largest Grey Cup game ever (2009) so should be more then capable of hosting an event like the Winter Classic.
Target Field (Minneapolis/St Paul):
Target Field is the new home of Minnesota Twins. Getting Minnesota the Winter Classic would be great and hosting it either in Target Field or TCF Bank Stadium (University of Minnesota Football) would work. I picked Target Field because it was designed better to handle the cold then TCF was as we found out this NFL season.
Yankee Stadium (New York):
I was thinking this would be one of the top choices for next year. It’s North America’s biggest market, home of an Original 6 team playing in a brand new stadium. However, until they move the day the Pinstripe Bowl is played, there won’t be time to set up the field for another game. So would they move it to the New Meadowlands or Citi Field? I don’t think so, I think the NHL would prefer Yankee Stadium. Until they move the date of the bowl game or the Winter Classic, Yankee Stadium will be low on this list.
University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale/Phoenix):
The University of Phoenix Stadium has hosted a Super Bowl and a NCAA National Championship games. It has also hosted Wrestlemania proving it can be used for more than just Football games. Having hockey’s biggest regular season event played in the dessert would be a little odd. Also, there is a chance the Coyotes could move back to Winnipeg. If they move back, then they can play in the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers new stadium expected to be complete in 2012
Frank Clair Stadium (Ottawa):
Frank Clair Stadium is the former home of the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders, Ottawa Renegades and most likely home for an expansion Ottawa team in 2013. The stadium only seats 26,000 which is only five thousand more than Montreal’s regular stadium.
Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay) :
I am as a big of a fan of this stadium as you will find. But I do not see this as a likely place for the game. The main reason is the Lightning played in the stadium regularly from 1993-1996 (see picture) which would eliminate the novelty of the event. The stadium does have the NHL Attendance with approximately 28,000.