July 30, 2014

Washington Capitals formally announce Winter Classic

Though confirmed reports leaked all week, the Washington Capitals announced Saturday morning at their annual Capitals Convention that the team was chosen to host the 2015 Winter Classic. What was not announced was a specific location or opponent.

Nationals Park remains the most likely destination for the outdoor game, though one wonders why there would be so much “cloak and dagger” surrounding the venue, considering Nationals principal owner Ted Lerner sits on the board of Monumental Entertainment.

One venue that is not under consideration is FedEx Field, which is reserved that day to host a college football bowl game.

Other venues that have been mentioned as possibilities are football stadiums Byrd Field at University of Maryland and M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and baseball-only stadium Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

A popular, but logistically nightmarish venue possibility was the National Mall. But in a blog post tow years ago, Caps owner Ted Leonsis dismissed the idea, saying that the effort and expense in building a one-time use only ice arena, stadium, locker rooms and security on “America’s Front Lawn” would be completely unpractical.

Speculation on opponent is wildly varied as well. Some folks favor a traditional opponent or division rival. Others would like to see a west coast team or a Canadian team as a variation. Strong money, though, is on a team from one of the big east coast traditional hockey markets, such as Boston or Philly.

From the press release:

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals will host the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2015, the National Hockey League and the Washington Capitals announced today. The game will take place on Jan. 1, 2015 with the Capitals’ opponent and location of the game to be announced at a later date.

“The excitement of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic continues to grow, and bringing the 2015 event to the D.C. area will write another chapter in the game’s great history of entertainment,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “We are looking forward to being in Washington with the Capitals’ great fans.”

The 2015 game will mark the seventh Winter Classic, an annual game that Forbes magazine called the best new sporting event of the last decade. It will mark the second time in history the Capitals will play an outdoor game. Washington defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in front of 68,111 fans at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Jan. 1, 2011.

“We are extremely excited to host the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and bring this great event to the D.C. area,” Leonsis said. “Our great fan base deserves to experience the magnificence of an outdoor game. We are thrilled to once again be part of this great event.”

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