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Nats making big push to host Winter Classic

I'm writing a story for tomorrow's Post on the Winter Classic that's coming to Washington in a few years and wanted to share a few items of interest while waiting for a few phone calls to be returned:

*According to Caps owner Ted Leonsis, the NHL has already/is planning to evaluate a number of D.C. venues, including Nationals Park, RFK Stadium and FedEx Field, as well as Baltimore's Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.

Leonsis said it's too early to name a favorite, but he prefers that the game be played in Washington rather than Baltimore.

*This much is known: The Nats are making a big push to host the game, according to team president Stan Kasten. The NHL has already inspected Nationals Park and the the Nats have made a detailed presentation to the league, complete with schematics of where the rink will be laid.

*The only venue that can be ruled out, according to Leonsis, is the National Mall. Beautiful? Yes. Feasible? No. The National Mall, however, could play host to the some of the support events that will accompany the game, Leonsis said.

"We need locker rooms," Leonsis said. "We need electricity. We need suites. It's a regular season game and points are at stake."

*Finally, the Caps' marketing department is working in conjunction with the league and Reebok on uniforms for next year's Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. After that work is completed, the thought is that they'll begin designing another throwback for the Washington game.

As far as the unis for the 2011 game, Leonsis wouldn't share many details, but he did say they "pay homage" to previous looks.

"There aren't any final decisions," he said. "But we've seen some rough drafts, and as you would expect, they pay homage to the past."

So there's a brief preview of the story, which is still in progress. It ought to be on the web this evening.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  June 3, 2010; 2:05 PM ET
 
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Next: Sources: Volchenkov not in Caps' plans

Comments

I need a suite.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | June 3, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

No Camden Yards or M&T Bank Stadium! FedEx is bad enough but at least a "Washington" team plays there.

Posted by: icehammer97 | June 3, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Since being bounced from the playoffs just about every Cap has been dealt at least once by fans.

Even Ovechkin has been thrown under the bus because his 50 goals, 109 pts, +45, and most PPG in his career shows he's not a two-player and is on the decline (not said today, but has been said in here).

The only players not mentioned in some form of a trade, or release, that I can recall are Backstrom, Knuble, and Carlson (the second coming of the Lord in some eyes). I know they lost in the first friggin' round but come on. If someone was to read this board and not know what went on last hockey season they would believe this team finished dead last in the league. Why else would fans want basically a full purge from GM to coach to nucleus of players?

Posted by: fanohock1 | June 3, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'll never understand the disdain that Caps fans seem to have for us Baltimore area fans. We pay the same and drive further and longer. Only loosely related to this topic sorry. I just don't get it.

I agree that it would be weird for the game to be played in a city that doesn't have an NHL team, though not unprecedented. Camden Yards and M&T just don't fit. As far as FedEx Field, I'm biased against it because of their crazy (by their own choice) parking situation.

My vote would be got Nationals Park. RFK is a bit rundown.

Posted by: lornemyoung | June 3, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

By process of elimination it's either Nationals Park or RFK. Considering everyone involved will make a lot more money if it's at Nationals Park, that's where it will be.

Posted by: butcherbaker | June 3, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Byrd?

Posted by: Colm1 | June 3, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

RFK probably isn't a realistic option for a game to be played on January 1 because there is a college football bowl game played there during the week between Christmas and New Year's. Of course, that game could fold, but if you're the NHL you can't make plans based on the possibility of the game folding.

It's too bad there isn't a decent college football stadium in the DC area that could host it. A football stadium has much better sightlines for a hockey rink than a baseball stadium does.

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 3, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Finally some sanity regarding the problems of attempting to use the Mall.

But Whiskey Tango Foxtrot are they thinking considering Bhawlmuher???

Are they trying to ensure a crowd of mostly Penguin Scum fans? Do they know that the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club has an official branch in that Podunk-Redneck town?

Posted by: CapsNut | June 3, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I'd say no to Byrd. The place is a dump.

Posted by: blindskateluke | June 3, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The only good options are Nats Park or RFK. RFK probably isn't up to an event like that anymore, so Nats Park seems to eb the only realistic option. I'd rather see it in Baltimore before FedEx Field.

Posted by: timmyv38 | June 3, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

As a Caps fan, I want the game at Nationals Park, which is in my eyes the finest sports facility in D.C. (and because I really want to eat Hard Times nachos while watching the Caps play live). The NHL fan in me thinks playing the game at Camden Yards would do more to broaden the fan base for the Caps and the NHL.

Posted by: troyPullen | June 3, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Baltimore?! That's just so obviously stupid. However, we're talking about Gary Bettman being involved, so it is entirely possible.

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | June 3, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"I'll never understand the disdain that Caps fans seem to have for us Baltimore area fans. We pay the same and drive further and longer. Only loosely related to this topic sorry. I just don't get it."
-------------
Not CAPS fans but fans from DC in general. And it's because stupid Angelos blocked baseball from dc for almost 10 years. PHouck Angelos- he's the one that made me stop rooting for the O's, the team I grew up with my entire early life while living in Annapolis.
So phouck him!!!
Thankfully, I am happily living and working in DC. Baltimore has a cute night life that's worth visiting once or twice a year. Other than that, it's mostly ghetto.

Posted by: luvdc808 | June 3, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Consider that the average daily temperature in DC in the months of December and January are 48 and 43 degrees respectively. Then consider that ice freezes at 32 degrees. The NHL selecting an outdoor venue in DC would guarantee that a professional hockey game be played in a giant cup of Slurpee. It'll never happen.

Posted by: DDheartsCaps | June 3, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

>>Why else would fans want basically a full purge from GM to coach to nucleus of players?

I know it's hard to believe, but the people who post all the rage in comments threads and blogs do not in fact represent all or the majority of Capitals' fans. They're just the squeaky wheels. :)

Posted by: blackjack65 | June 3, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

RFK probably isn't a realistic option for a game to be played on January 1 because there is a college football bowl game played there during the week between Christmas and New Year's. Of course, that game could fold, but if you're the NHL you can't make plans based on the possibility of the game folding.

++
well we're talking about a game in two or three years. dont think the eagle bank bowl has been scheduled that far out. if it means brining the winter classic to DC or playing the eagle bank bowl, i say move the bowl game earlier. the nhl game will bring in more cash than that lower tier bowl game.

i believe RFK is the perfect spot given its history and size. much better layout for a hockey rink than a baseball stadium. pretty sure it could be brought up to snuff in time to play a game there.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | June 3, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"Consider that the average daily temperature in DC in the months of December and January are 48 and 43 degrees respectively. Then consider that ice freezes at 32 degrees. The NHL selecting an outdoor venue in DC would guarantee that a professional hockey game be played in a giant cup of Slurpee. It'll never happen."

Consider that the NHL played an outdoor preseason game in Las Vegas in September of 1991 when the temperature was in excess of 85°F and the ice surface proved to be fine. Your complaints ring hollow. The bigger concern with DC, and it's a very valid one, is the unpredictability of the weather around here. I recall New Year's Days that were in the 60°F range and sunny, great golf weather, and I recall others with howling wind such that it felt more like being in Chicago. There's always the risk of rain, too. But warm weather is not a problem in terms of laying down an ARTIFICIAL sheet of ice.

Look at it this way: You don't think the air temperature in any NHL arena is 32°F or below, do you? Yet that doesn't stop them from playing the games.

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 3, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"well we're talking about a game in two or three years. dont think the eagle bank bowl has been scheduled that far out. if it means brining the winter classic to DC or playing the eagle bank bowl, i say move the bowl game earlier. the nhl game will bring in more cash than that lower tier bowl game."

The bowl's contract runs through 2013, according to the bowl's website.

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 3, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Nats park is the only choice. RFK to old no suites etc. Baltimore is no choice. We are the WASHINGTON Caps not the B-more Caps. That would be a slap in the face to DC and all the Caps fans.
And FedEx well we all know why FedEx shouldn't be a choice...again not in DC and Snyder owns it.

Posted by: jotay131 | June 3, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The bowl's contract runs through 2013, according to the bowl's website.

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 3, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

right, but are the dates set each year? maybe they are and cant be moved. i would think there is some flexibility there given that the stadium isnt really being used much in december.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | June 3, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"right, but are the dates set each year? maybe they are and cant be moved. i would think there is some flexibility there given that the stadium isnt really being used much in december."

I don't know, although I imagine they'd be reluctant to play it prior to Christmas because of potential exam conflicts, especially given that Army and Navy are two of their tie-in teams. You make a valid point that the NHL could probably negotiate with the bowl and the stadium over the scheduling, but I think it's far more likely that they'd go to Nationals Park. Don't forget, also, that Mark Lerner owns a share of the Capitals, so putting the game at Nationals Park helps one of the Capitals' ownership group.

I think RFK was somewhat of an asset for the Nationals during their first two years (consider the nostalgia factor for the many of us in our late 30s who grew up with that stadium, had lots of great memories of it from when we were kids, but didn't get out there as often in more recent years), but its time is past. Hopefully they get something resolved to keep DC United in the area in the near future and then RFK can be bid farewell.

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 3, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Nats Park would have had a chance to be a pretty cool venue if they had only placed something uniquely local and cool behind the outfield walls rather than crummy parking garages. The parking garages are an ugly and drab backdrop that steals any personality that the park would have otherwise had. It's very generic. That being said, it's the ONLY choice for the Winter Classic, as many have said. Let's just hope for some snow.

Posted by: MarylanDChris | June 3, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

The theory that the Winter Classic has to be in DC is specious, I think. I mean, the Caps are headquarter and practice in Virginia. And plenty of fans come from Md. But Fed Ex is just too big and RFK is too old. That pretty much leaves Nats Park.

Posted by: poguesmahone | June 3, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

hen consider that ice freezes at 32 degrees. The NHL selecting an outdoor venue in DC would guarantee that a professional hockey game be played in a giant cup of Slurpee. It'll never happen.

Posted by: DDheartsCaps | June 3, 2010 4:03 PM

It's not the temperature that's the factor, its the humidity.

"In September 1991, a night exhibition game between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings was played before 13,000 fans in 85-degree heat in Las Vegas, on a rink set up outside Caesar’s Palace."

http://slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/30/a-brief-history-of-outdoor-hockey/

We've gone over this a hundred times already.

Posted by: Fro_ | June 3, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

No way do they have this game in Baltimore, that would be a slap in the face to Caps fans.

Posted by: DCFanatic | June 3, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Baltimore, funniest thing I heard all day. I could imagine Peter Angelos salivating over getting that game in his park.

Posted by: DCfan8397 | June 3, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Ted "we need suites" Leonsis -- a true man of the little people.

Posted by: caps1974 | June 3, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Baltimore would not be an appropriate venue for an event designed to showcase the nation's capital. If the city wants to host some preseason Caps games at 1st Mariner, that's fine but not the Winter Classic. No way.

Posted by: evwill | June 3, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Here's a bit of a curve ball. What if Snyder bought RFK, imploded it and built a new stadium to be finished in 3-4 years? NHL would jump at the chance to play there. Then Snyder could also get his chance at hosting a Super Bowl there too. You heard it here first. Love the conspiracy theories....mwuahaahaahaa

Posted by: wolfmnsbro | June 3, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Won't happen wolfmnsbro.

#1. RFK is on Federal Property, National Park Service to be exact. So good luck getting the Feds to sell.

#2. The RFK site is badly polluted. The cleanup costs alone make developing the land cost prohibitive. That's why Nats Park and FedEx Field were never built on that site.

#3. The Not In My Backyardist (NIMBY) in RFK's neighborhood are very active and strong. No way they would allow another larger venue to be built there. They wouldn't even let the Nats shoot off fireworks after their first home game in 2005 to celebrate the return of baseball.

Posted by: CapsNut | June 3, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

I would love to do it at RFK, but I dont know how safe it is to pack that place with 45-50k people who might go nuts.

It last held that many people in probably 2005 and for relatively traquil baseball games. 5 years of aging can't help. They've had some 30k+ crowds for soccer, but I dont know how much I trust it

Posted by: makplan20002 | June 4, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

RFK currently seats 45,596 because they never restored the end zone seats that were removed to facilitate the use of the movable stands while the Nationals played there (had they restored those, it would seat 55,750). The biggest crowd at RFK in the past few years was a sellout crowd in 2007 when the LA Galaxy were in town and David Beckham made his MLS debut. They also had just under 40,000 there for the MLS Cup later that year.

DC United's crowds routinely shake those movable stands big-time (I believe La Barra Brava and the Screaming Eagles both have their sections on that side of the field), so that section's durability is nothing to be concerned about, at least.

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 4, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

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