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Volume 27 No. 5
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Winter Classic Marks Culmination Of Long Bid Process For Wild

Wild President Matt Majka said improvements to the Twins' Target Field for the '21 Winter Classic bid came at a "significant expense," according to Sarah McLellan of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Target Field had to be "winterized -- a process that made sure the facility would have running water and functioning restrooms and concessions on Jan. 1." The Twins have "wanted to play host to a hockey game for quite some time." Twins groundskeeper Larry DiVito has "taken in many outdoor hockey games," and last week was in Dallas to "touch base" with NHL VP/Facilities Operations Dan Craig. McLellan notes where exactly the rink will be situated over the diamond is "unclear, and that positioning could also impact the final capacity." Currently, that number is "pegged around 40,000" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/3).

WAITING GAME WINNERS: In St. Paul, Dane Mizutani writes while players remember the outdoor experience at TCF Bank Stadium for a Stadium Series game in '16, there "seemed to be an additional excitement" surrounding Target Field. Wild LW Zach Parise said, "It's going to be great. You have the skyline and downtown in the background, and a lot of us in the locker room are Twins fans, so we're looking forward to it" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/3). The AP's Dave Campbell wrote the Wild have "long lobbied" to host the Winter Classic. Parise: "It was a little overdue, but we finally got one, and we'll all enjoy it." The Wild "lacked the brand power of most of the previous hosts," which is "one reason why the NHL has been hesitant to send the game to Minnesota" (AP, 1/2).

WEIRD ENOUGH?: ESPN.com's Greg Wyshynski wrote Dallas' Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl "had everything: knife jugglers, rodeo clowns, a mechanical bull [and] line dancers." Outside the stadium, there was a "midway of carnival games, a giant Ferris wheel, and corn dogs the size of [Bruins D] Zdeno Chara's hockey stick." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "I understand Twitter is going nuts, in a good way, over the pig races. They want more of them." Wyshynski: "The NHL's outdoor games are at their best when they're at their weirdest." The '20 Winter Classic was the "rare total package," with the Predators and Stars playing an "intense, meaningful game that had controversy and physicality as well as flurries of goals." Add that to the "weird and you have what's easily in the top three of Winter Classics," and a contender for "most satisfying outdoor game experience in NHL history." Wyshynski: "It's the weird that usually sticks in the mind long after these games are done" (ESPN.com, 1/2).