December 28, 2009
Anyone who follows my Twitter feed or has spied my appearances on Puck Daddy knows that I turn into a bit of a hockey junkie during the winter months. As such, it comes as no surprised that I am absolutely smitten with the NHL's Winter Classic tradition, especially since the 2009 game was staged Wrigley Field and the Bruins and Flyers will appear in the 2010 edition that will be played at Fenway Park on Friday.
The site for the 2011 game has yet to be decided, but here are a few ballpark suggestions if the NHL continues to meld its fresh New Year's tradition with America's pastime.
Target Field, Minneapolis: Hosting the next edition in the Twin Cities' new ballpark seems like a natural fit and you might even consider it a favorite at this point. Not only would it allow the NHL to schedule a Canadian opponent for the Wild, it'd also remind Minnesotans of what it was like to watch baseball outside the previous Opening Day.
Yankee Stadium, New York: Watching the Rangers and Devils play in The House That Jeter Built would be great fun for anyone who's not an Islanders fan, not to mention a big media win for Gary Bettman and Co. But as puck buddy Sean Leahy pointed out last week, we may have to wait for such a possibility. Yankee Stadium has a three-year commitment to host a college bowl game (starting next year). In order to have the necessary time to build the rink, the league will likely either have to hold the game on a different date or wait until 2014.
AT&T Park, San Francisco: I oddly enjoyed watching last week's Emerald Bowl being played inside the Land of Lincecum and the thought of the Sharks playing the Ducks against the backdrop of McCovey Cove is too enticing and beautiful to pass up. No, there probably wouldn't be any snow and the rain could wreak havoc on the rink. But there could be fog, which would be memorable in itself.
Comerica Park, Detroit: Hockeytown gets a bad rap for a lot of things, but the city's downtown stadium campus is a great place to hold a big sporting event. Get the Red Wings outside and let them show the sissy Lions how playing in the elements is done.
PNC Park, Pittsburgh: Crossing the Roberto Clemente Bridge to watch Crosby and Malkin play on the banks of the Allegheny in the nation's prettiest ballpark? Yes, please.
Progressive Field, Cleveland: The NHL would have to bus the Blue Jackets to play the Winter Classic, but you'd be guaranteed cold weather and a very underrated ballpark with lots of upper deck seats to provide good views of the ice.
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles: The Kings once played the Rangers at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas for a 1991 outdoors exhibition game ... Why can't they set up shop in Chavez Ravine?
Stade Municipal, Quebec City: Rogers Centre and Olympic Stadium don't do anything for me, so let's set up a game in downtown Quebec City at this small 4,500-seat venue that plays host to Les Capitales de Quebec of the Northern League. There's the small problem of Quebec City no longer having a team, but if this leads to the Avalanche showing up and wearing the old Nordiques jerseys in an intimate minor-league setting, I think we'd all be for it.