SBD/January 2, 2014/Events and Attractions

Source: Nationals Park The Likely Host For '15 Winter Classic In DC

Playing at Nationals Park would keep Winter Classic events centrally located
The '15 NHL Winter Classic will "likely be held at Nationals Park," according to a source cited by Katie Carrera of the WASHINGTON POST. Since the Capitals were named the hosts of the game in September, "speculation over a venue -- and whether the contest would take place within the District itself -- has been rampant given the number of stadium options in the region." The source said that "no formal decision has been made" and an announcement "isn’t expected in the immediate future." Carrera noted Nationals Principal Owner Mark Lerner is a "minority partner" in Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis’ Monumental Sports & Entertainment. However, the Nationals "do not have exclusive control over striking a deal with the NHL because they lease the ballpark" from DC (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/30). In DC, Brian McNally wrote Nationals Park "makes the most sense" to host the game. The ballpark "has a Metro line directly across the street and allows the league to keep its ancillary events, like the popular alumni game, centrally located in a way that playing at FedEx Field in suburban Maryland never could." The NHL has held the Winter Classic at MLB ballparks before, but that is "not always an ideal scenario." NHL COO John Collins said, "What we find when we go into baseball stadiums is the tickets that have been the best tickets for the viewing of a hockey game aren’t necessarily the best tickets for viewing a baseball game." McNally noted Collins was "adamant that no opponent has yet been picked and no deal struck for a venue." However, the Bruins and Flyers are two "obvious candidates" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/1).

TORONTO WANTS A PIECE: MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke earlier this week said he hopes to land the '17 Winter Classic if BMO Field is expanded, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he will "have that conversation with Tim." Bettman: "Tim couldn’t be more aggressive on behalf of the Leafs and everything that is going on around the Air Canada Centre. ... We like to look for exciting opportunities where we can get our fans to connect with the game in special ways. If it makes sense and we can do it, why not?” Bettman was asked if an outdoor game in Toronto could offer enough seating for fans, to which he answered, “The logistics of being outside is daunting and expensive. ... But more than that, when you’re going to put on an event like this, lots and lots of people want to attend. If you can only do it for 20- or 30,000, than what’s the point?” (“Hockey Central,” CJCL-AM, 1/1).

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS?
In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford reports despite a "strong desire by the Blues to host an outdoor game ... or even play in one elsewhere, the team is not on the NHL’s list of participants at this point." Blues Owner Tom Stillman said, "We would love to have an outdoor game in St. Louis, especially the Winter Classic. ... It’s old-time hockey outside. We think it would be great for Blues’ fans, great for the city and great for the Blues’ organization.” Stillman said that there "isn’t a formal application process ... to secure the Winter Classic." Rutherford notes the NHL is "well aware that all 30 teams would welcome the event," and it is "more a matter of pushing and prodding." The MLB Cardinals would be involved in the bidding process, as a St. Louis outdoor game "would be played at Busch Stadium." Stillman: "The Cardinals would love to have an outdoor game at Busch Stadium. ... It’s something they’re very interested in doing" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/2).

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? SPORTSNET.ca's Luke Fox asked Lightning VP & GM Steve Yzerman if he had made a "pitch to hold an outdoor hockey game in the Sunshine State." Yzerman said, “I’m a little concerned that we're killing the golden goose a little bit here with all these outdoor games and ruining the uniqueness and specialness of these games." However, he added, "Someday I think it’s something to consider if our organizations continue to improve and both (Florida) teams get better and more competitive. Let’s see how it goes in California." The Kings and Ducks are scheduled to play at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25 (SPORTSNET.ca, 1/1). 
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