Sometime’s you don’t want to be the one that follows up a great event. You’d want to be the one that plays host two years later due to the high bar that is raised at the big event. Should Wednesday’s Winter Classic between Detroit and Washington come off as successful as anticipated, Washington till have a tall order to follow up next year according to multiple Internet sources.
Pro Hockey Talk reported in September that the league was looking at Washington to host next year’s Winter Classic. And to think of it, NBC could have used Alexander Ovechkin for this year’s game as NHL/Olympic crossover promotion
but the lockout put those plans on hold. Now that members of the NHL media are converging upon Detroit this week, that chatter has increased.
There are a few outdoor venues for consideration in the Maryland/Virginia/DC area. RFK Stadium is old and borderline decrepit so that wouldn’t work. FedEx Field would be great for filling seats, but can hockey fans really fill in the largest stadium in the NFL? It would also create rink construction problems as it is at the end of the Redskins season. We last saw this in 2011 when Pittsburgh hosted Washington, as the rink construction began less then a week before the game.
Where does this leave us? Nationals Ballpark as the likely host. While it doesn’t have the history/prestige of Wrigley Field, or Fenway Park, it does offer the scenic backdrop of Washington DC. It would join Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia as newer baseball stadiums to host the Winter Classic. Another tie is that Nationals owner Mark Lerner is a minority partner in Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the Capitals ownership group headed by Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.
One area of concern would be weather. The weather for Washington DC Wednesday is a low of 34 degree, a high of 45 degrees and a partly cloudy forecast. Not good for those who want to play hockey outside on a top-notch rink. The OHL games at Detroit’s Comerica Park were delayed Sunday due to the sunlight causing vision problems. One thing that ice doesn’t need in addition to above-freezing temps is the sun shining on the ice to make it rough and slushy.
Historically, the average high temperature for January 1 is 44 degrees while the average low is 29 degrees. The record high was set recently (69 degrees in 2005) and this could be a recipe for disastrous ice conditions even if the average temps hold up.
We are still some time away from the NHL announcing the location for the next Winter Classic, but until then we can only speculate where it will be held and potential opponents. As long as we don’t see Pittsburgh or Philadelphia as the opponent I’d be fine with anyone else as the opponent for Washington.