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Bold ideas for next Winter Classic include Colorado, Florida

Dec 30, 2011, 5:45 PM EDT

Winter Classic Hockey AP

The Winter Classic is morphing into a prestige and money-laden event that represents hockey’s best answer to the Super Bowl. In its first five years, the event has bounced around Northeastern cities, but the calls for more exotic locales have been picking up with each passing year.

Here are two especially interesting ideas from today’s round of stories.

Taking the Winter Classic out West

Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater paints an intriguing picture of a Winter Classic game in Colorado for Sports Illustrated:

Can you picture this?

It’s 25 degrees outside on an early January night and the Detroit Red Wings are taking to the ice against the Colorado Avalanche under the silhouette of the Rocky Mountains. More than 76,000 fans are packed inside Sports Authority Field in Denver, including — brace yourselves — TIM TEBOW.

One of the greatest rivalries in sports history — not just the NHL — is revived for one day at least. And in case the current Avs and Wings wouldn’t be enough of an attraction, there is the alumni game to consider.

I’m not quite sure the NHL should base its Winter Classic planning on the drawing power of a quarterback who might be old news by next year (Tebow), but the overall idea has some appeal. The alumni game would indeed be a beauty since many of those greats just recently retired. (Mike Keane was playing until 2010.)

Florida + retractable roof = gold?

The Miami Marlins have made a lot of noise during their transformation in the MLB’s off-season, so attempting to attract a Winter Classic to their new ballpark seems in character. It almost doesn’t sound completely ridiculous thanks to the building’s retractable roof, either.

Here are some interesting details about the bold idea via a great blog post by George Richards of the Miami Herald.

First, the ballpark would have toclose its retractable roof for about two weeks with the air conditioning running – and humidity lowered – while the ice sheet is built and maintained.

On game day, the roof would open for the outdoor affect.

One can only imagine the scenery an outdoor hockey game in the tropics would produce for a worldwide television audience. That imagery is what the Panthers would sell to the league. It’s a hook no other market has. Sure, Los Angeles has sun and palm trees; it doesn’t have the retractable roof.

Sure, the retractable roof seems kind of like cheating, but Richards writes that it would afford an opportunity to have NHL-quality ice. (That’s not necessarily a claim that could always be made during some of the rougher stretches of some Winter Classic games.) Beyond that, the lure of going to Miami for a combination of a New Year’s celebration and outdoor hockey is so stunning that my liver hurts just thinking about it.


As Richards wrote later on in that piece, a Winter Classic in Florida remains highly unlikely. That being said, the fact that the technology is in place to make that even feasible is exciting enough.

Moving on, tell us: where would you like to see the next Winter Classic? Feel free to base your choice(s) on whatever standards you’d like, from best overall experience to highest degree of difficulty and anything in between.

  1. cannonblast14 - Dec 30, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Detroit at Blue Jackets in the Ohio State shoe. Day before you warm up with the Ohio state Michigan rivalry which is one of, I’d not biggest rivalry. Bring the jackets wings “rivalry” and take it into the Ohio state- Michigan territory by playin in the shoe

    • brucewaynewins - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      If they put it in the Shoe I think the Red Wings have to be the away team to help sell it out. Ohio State vs Michigan would also sell out for a college game.

      Miami makes sense in the Marlins stadium. I think the fact its in Florida and the technical feet of it would draw a lot of attention but only for a one time deal. It’d require the opponent be a marque team or and the Panthers would need some star players.

      Colorado, LA, and Minnesota would both sell out with no issues I think. They like most of the teams we’re talking about need to play better and get some more marquee players.

      I think out of all the teams we’re talking about the easiest ratings just based on one team is LA because its a big market which draws attention whether you want to admit it or not. The second one is Miami because of the pure spectacle.

  2. laurely515 - Dec 30, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    With the Pittsburgh having played in last year’s game, and Philadelphia playing this year, it’s not likely to happen for a while, especially since there’s no nearby city, but more than anything I would want to see Flyers-Penguins at Beaver Stadium.

  3. canucks18 - Dec 30, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Hockey’s answer to the Superbowl?? Hahahahaha that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard!!! O’Brien you’re quickly losing it

  4. gbiscottagecheesefatties - Dec 30, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    Florida… really… that makes no sense. it won’t happen, no one will want to watch that

    • govtminion - Dec 30, 2011 at 6:54 PM

      It does seem like it defeats the idea. “OK, so we’ll play the only outdoor game of the year… but we’ll do it INDOORS!” It’s the same problem I had with them doing the game at JerryWorld in Dallas. Why bother?

      But Colorado? He didn’t need to bring up Tebow, that was dumb- the event sells itself. And I can confirm that it definitely gets cold enough in early January to get the ice ready at Mile High- and then some!

  5. chrisjdonohue - Dec 30, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    Yankee Stadium for a Rangers v Canadiens/Leafs game. Now that would be a site to see. Original 6? Bring in a Canadian team? Talk abt a draw.

    • laurely515 - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:01 PM

      Yeah, that would be cool, but I don’t think NBC would ever let that happen. They probably wouldn’t want one of the two home markets to be Canadian, because people watching in Canada don’t count towards ratings.

      Bruins-Rangers in Yankee Stadium could be just as big a draw though.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 30, 2011 at 9:00 PM

        You’re right, the NHL created (brought back) the Canadian “Heritage Classic” last year so that Canada could have it’s own outdoor game, and thus not feel left out. They can’t have it every year though because only Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg have outdoor stadiums suitable for the event. Vancouver and Toronto have retractable roof stadiums that don’t quite have the same essence, and then Ottawa and Montreal currently lack stadiums to host the event. Montreal does have a dome stadium (roof doesn’t retract anymore) and a football stadium that’s too small and would have a capacity of less than the Bell Centre.

        I also agree Yankee Stadium would be an awesome venue, although they need to wait until the demise of the Pinstripe Bowl, but the Boston v New York thing has been done to death…do something different like Rangers v Chicago or even Rangers v Devils.

  6. pastabelly - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    Canada already has it’s own outdoor game, the Heritage Classic. Agree on Bruins-Rangers at Yankee Stadium or new football stadium. Columbus is not ready for prime time and wouldn’t attract a national tv audience. Get a game in Denver and then get the game back to a city in the northeast.

  7. oquintero99 - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Would love Minnesota or Toronto, maybe Ottawa

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 30, 2011 at 8:51 PM

      Toronto doesn’t really work because they don’t have an outdoor stadium, and the Skydome has no drainage capabilities on the field, so I’m not sure how it would work getting rid of the ice afterwards. Add to that the Leafs would lose a home game (all outdoor games become NHL events and they take over everything and pay the home team a fee) and I can’t see the Leafs being too excited about it.

      The NHL seems to think (whether they’re right or wrong) that they have one marketable star so I would wager that the Penguins are involved again next year, in fact I wouldn’t be shocked if the shortsighted “visionaries” at the NHL try for a Capitals v Penguins game in Washington next year.

  8. sanjosecupcrazy - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    AT&T Park — San Francisco. Sharks vs. Canucks.

  9. rainyday56 - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    Ducks vs Kings @ the Rose Bowl on roller blades (non league game). Forget the alumni game, dovetail the event with an X-game extravaganza at the same venue. Hold it in the middle of January between the bowl games and Superbowl. Time for the NHL to be creative and reach out to alternative youth cultures who have disposable money.

    • rainyday56 - Dec 30, 2011 at 8:08 PM

      Maybe even get the UFC involved.

  10. tcclark - Dec 31, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    How about Detroit v. Minnesota in a neutral ice game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Not only will you get a good hockey game in a classic stadium (known as the frozen tundra), the NHL would also be able to test out the Wisconsin hockey market. It seems odd that there isn’t already a team up there.

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