Now that we are past the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium it’s time to look ahead towards the 2015 installment. Early reports have the NHL heading to Washington D.C. and Nationals Park for the game hosted by the Washington Capitals. This is an awful idea to hold the annual New Year’s Day event at a ball park with no history or real beauty to it.
This is why these five other venues that would have been perfect to host the NHL’s biggest game of the year. Some of these parks have the combination that the previous host cities have had. They contain a terrific park, a rabid fan base, a team that can draw viewers and can give the “wintery” feel when viewers are watching.
5) PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Yes, I know, the Penguins have just hosted a Winter Classic and they have been in two of these games plus a Stadium Series contest. However, PNC Park has the beautiful sight lines that would make any seat in the park a good viewing experience. NBC producers would salivate having camera shots of Sidney Crosby and company playing with Mount Washington and the city behind them.
Pittsburgh is a long shot at getting another game anytime soon. However, back when the Penguins hosted the Capitals Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Connelly made his intentions known to the Associated Press that he wanted to host a game.
4) Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Arlington, TX
It would be better to see this game at Jerry World in AT&T Stadium. However, this will not happen while college football has the venue rented out for the Cotton Bowl. Plus, there is the chance that the Dallas Cowboys could make the postseason, which would cause a big monkey wrench into planning the event.
But the Texas Rangers ballpark in Arlington is a hidden gem. Dallas’ weather during the lead up to the game, and during the game, could play a factor. No, not because it’d be too hot, but because the Arlington area is prone to ice storms. On New Years day this year the high during the day was 70 degrees. However, at night, the low was 34 which would be a perfect game time temperature.
The Dallas Stars are a very good up and coming team. They have budding stars in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. The ballpark is compacted enough that it’d be easy to see the game. And, the NHL can get the big venue numbers since the site can hold up to 49,115 people.
3) AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
The Winter Classic hasn’t made its way out to the west and that’s a shame. Not only does the Western Conference
huge have some of the best teams in the league; the Pacific Division has three California teams that are the elite of the NHL. It’s baffling that the league hasn’t thought of these teams just because of their location.
Now I know that California doesn’t jump out as your typical winter atmosphere. But you have to give the chance at having the San Jose Sharks host a game at one of Major League Baseball’s finest parks. Grantland’s lead baseball writer, Jonah Keri, voted it the best active park.
The Sharks would make for a compelling team for the 2015 game since it would be a squad that is in the midst of change; or one that’s hanging on to veterans who are trying to win the cup together. Either way the combination of a great team, beautiful park and a fanbase that’s underrated need to host next year’s game.
2) Coors Field, Denver, CO
Coors Field is one of those unique ballparks. Not only is it huge, having a max capacity of 50,445, but it sits
5,280 feet (one mile) above sea level. This is the highest among all parks in baseball and would give an added angle towards the outdoor game.
The Avalanche are an exciting team with a coach that needs to be on HBO: 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic. In Patrick Roy’s short coaching career with the team he’s already tried to fight another coach. In fact, that was in his first game.
Denver is an amazing city that would fit the perfect scene for the NHL and NBC on New Years Day. The park, city, and potential weather conditions are a bigger selling point than whatever Washington, D.C. can provide next year.
1) Target Field, Minneapolis, MN
Why hasn’t Minnesota, also known as the “State of Hockey”, hosted a Winter Classic? I mean, Buffalo has held this game before the good people of Minnesota. For the viewers that want the winter scene of snow falling, Minnesota has it. If you want a tremendous atmosphere with a great fanbase, Minnesota has it. If star players draw you into the game, Minnesota has it.
Basically not giving the Wild the 2015 game at Target Field is a slap in the face by the NHL. If it wasn’t for the Stars relocating to Dallas, this would be the biggest blunder by the league to Minneapolis.
The options for the NHL and NBC to build in storylines and great camera shots are endless with this city, team, and location. Hopefully, if the Wild doesn’t get the 2015 game they will have the chance to host the 2016 installment or if there is another Stadium Series.
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I’ve devoted most of my life to being a Pittsburgh sports fan. Currently, I live in Austin with my wife Sarah and our dogs Clooney and Maggie.. But, I had the pleasure of taking in all that is Austin, TX – mostly the Texas Stars American Hockey League franchise – for the past 4 years.