Plain and simple, the NHL Winter Classic if coming to Washington D.C. First it was speculated, then rumored, then commented on by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and later clarified by Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. It’s happening.
In short, Bettman promised Leonsis that he will bring the outdoor game to our nation’s capital, but gave no date. Leonsis wrote on his blog that it will not be next year’s game and stressed that a game on the National Mall would not be “feasible.”
This news disappointed a number of fans who were already putting together mockups in Photoshop of the ice rink between Lincoln and Washington Memorials. I’m not sure that I completely agree with Leonsis that it isn’t “feasible,” but I will say that it would be much trickier than putting the game in Nationals Park or FedEx Field.
With a capacity of 82,000, FedEx field makes the most sense if Washington is looking to draw a massive crowd for the Classic, but the place is a dump. Nats Park would provide the some of the scenic beauty of Washington D.C. and will likely be the home of an MLB All-Star game in an upcoming season.
If the NHL really wanted a beautiful venue in the DMV, I know a certain ballpark that turns 20 this year that is revered by many as baseball’s best stadium. The place set the standards for the new era of baseball stadiums, seats 48,876 and would draw crowds from two cities to support the Capitals. I’m talking of course about Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Could you imagine hockey being played with the Warehouse in the background? Camden Yards would be a unique twist to the outdoor hockey game that the NHL adopted five years ago. Since its inception, the Winter Classic has been played in Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Boston’s Fenway Park and most recently Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. Why not add another iconic baseball stadium to that list?
Of course, the Capitals would have to approve the home game away from home. Traveling from D.C. to Baltimore is something most businessmen and women do everyday, but surely the Capitals would want to make sure the game has a home feel and crowd. Washington played a preseason game in Baltimore this year and has grown a steady fan base that I believe would support a great crowd for the outdoor game.
If I were in charge, I’d say the National Mall or OPACY.