On Saturday morning, the Washington Capitals announced they will host the NHL Winter Classic during the 2014-15 season. Majority Owner Ted Leonsis made the formal announcement, but the Washington Post confirmed reports by 106.7 The Fan prior to the announcement that the Winter Classic would be held in the nation’s capital.
“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 in a press release. “We are looking forward to being in Washington with the Capitals’ great fans.”
“The Winter Classic is coming to Washington D.C. in January 2015,” said Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. “I want to see a sea of red come January 15th,2015.”
It will be the second Winter Classic the Washington Capitals participate in, with the first one coming in a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 1st, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
“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.”
The opponent and location have yet to be determined and the National Hockey League will make that decision. Nationals Park is the likely location for the Winter Classic, but Fedex Field, the home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, is another possibility.
“Whoever the league chooses for us I’m sure will be a competitive game,” Leonsis said.
The 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic was the most viewed Outdoor game in NHL history, with an average of 4.5 million U.S. viewers.
“Even if I didn’t have success in the first one, I’m excited to play in another one,” Capitals forward Eric Fehr told the Washington Post. “It’s a really unique experience, something I definitely look back on with good memories, but to have one at home would be even cooler.”
The Winter Classic event will feature a Spectator Plaza, a free outdoor hockey related festival that will give fans a chance to take in the whole experience prior to the big game.
“This is really a good time to give back to the community,” added Leonsis on Saturday morning during the Washington Capitals convention in his address to the fans. “It’s only a game and two points, we get compensated as if we were playing a game at Verizon Center.”
“This isn’t a money making effort for the Capitals, but we’ll spend our time working with the league to help youth hockey. The league has done really fantastic work in its charitable outreach, making events that will help local high schools and colleges. It really will make a whole week that culminates in the game on national television. It’s the only game in the NHL that’s been played that day so all the eyes of the NHL and all the cities will be on us.”
Leonsis stated that helping local communities and businesses is a huge benefit with having the Winter Classic in Washington D.C.
“I look at the [Winter Classic] as a way to help the restaurants, hotels and youth hockey,” added Washington’s majority owner. “Hopefully whoever we play they’ll send 30,000 people into our city. I want you all [Capitals fans] to be nice and kind hosts to whoever it is.”
“I look at this as a fantastic way to say thank you to our fans. I think it’s going to be a week of celebration and we have to prepare for it like it’s any other game.”