Late last week, it was announced that the Washington Capitals will host the 2015 Winter Classic which will take place on New Year’s Day of said year. In terms of details, all that’s left to determine is who the Caps will play and more importantly, which venue will play host to the annual event.
While Nationals Park seems like the most popular choice, no one can rule out FedEx Field just yet.
I’ve been going back and forth wondering which venue would be better equipped to house the Winter Classic and while Nationals Park is newer and more picturesque, FedEx Field, like any prototypical football stadium, holds an advantage in seating capacity and of course, on-field (or on-ice) viewing, assuming that’s even the correct term.
What I loved about past Winter Classics being held at storied Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in addition to 2013’s version held at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, there’s that something special with a football stadium that makes the outdoor game atmosphere look all the more authentic.
I’m not intending to take anything away from the games that were held at baseball stadiums. As a matter of fact, since the Baltimore Orioles opened their current ballpark back in 1992, I enjoyed nothing more than the new wave of ballparks turning back the clock to show the beautiful city landscape past the outfield. Even those newer stadiums that don’t like Seattle’s Safeco Field, Denver’s Coors Field or Houston’s Minute Maid Park, each of those parks make up for the lack of city view in their own ways. Hey, if it meant doing away with dumps like the Kingdome and Metrodome in addition to moving teams out of the baseball-unfriendly confines of stadiums like Three Rivers and Riverfront, then that’s all that matters.
With that said, you can only imagine how I feel about the Toronto Blue Jays calling the Rogers Centre home. But back to the Winter Classic.
In terms of venue, I can go either way. While it is a lot more modern than Washington’s (err, Landover, Maryland’s) pigskin abode, Nationals Park, according to ballparks.com, holds just over 41,000. Plus, those sitting behind home plate will have more difficulty seeing the game than those sitting in the outfield seats. FedEx Field on the other holds just over 91,000 fans and is set up so every fan doesn’t have to endure any hardships in trying to watch the game to the best of their abilities, thus not having to wish they were seated somewhere else. If it were up to me, I would take FedEx Field for just those reasons. Of course, I wouldn’t be the least bit disappointed If the NHL chose to hold the game at Nationals Park.
As for who the Caps will be playing January 1, 2015, it has been largely speculated that the Philadelphia Flyers will be the road team.
While I would like to see a team that hasn’t yet participate in a Winter Classic as of yet, the Flyers do hold a slight advantage in terms of their rivalry with the Capitals dating back to their days in the old Patrick Division.
Initially, I was thinking the Caps could host the Carolina Hurricanes but despite being division rivals the previous 15 years, there isn’t more excitement that can be brought to the nation’s capital than a date with the orange-and-black. I would certainly rather said matchup than a date with the Pittsburgh Penguins who, from here on in, I will refer to as the NHL’s version of Lyndon Johnson.
While I am beyond excited for the upcoming Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings to be held at Wolverine Stadium in Ann Arbor this coming New Year’s Day, I am just as anxious for the 2015 version to be held in the nation’s capital between (most likely) two teams who have a storied rivalry, even if it doesn’t have quite the same longevity as that of the Wings and Leafs.
There are those skeptics who have suggested that the popularity of hockey in DC doesn’t go beyond the fascination of one Alexander Ovechkin. But on New Year’s Day 2015, we’re all going to see just how popular hockey is Washington – and I can assure you that all the skeptics will be in for a rude awakening.