Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis announced Saturday his team will serve as the host for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2015.
"The excitement of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic continues to grow, and bringing the 2015 event to the D.C. area will write another chapter in the game's great history of entertainment," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We are looking forward to being in Washington with the Capitals' great fans."
Attending the team's Capitals Convention, Leonsis admitted that he had been lobbying the NHL to host a Winter Classic since 2008, when he saw the Buffalo Sabres host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the first iteration of the annual spectacle. It took some time, but he finally got the big game in the nation's capital.
"The very first time I saw the Winter Classic was in Buffalo. I started emailing [NHL Chief Operating Officer] John [Collins] and our commissioner and said 'I want one of those.' It looked so spectacular," Leonsis told the convention crowd. "The whole hockey world watches. It's an event that really signifies that we've come a long way as a hockey community. The League believes we can support it. That our city is ready to be the host city for an event of that magnitude."
The site for the game as well as the opponent will be announced at a future date.
The DC area offers a variety of venues for the game. FedExField hosts the National Football League's Washington Redskins while Nationals Park is the home of the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball. League CEO John Collins even said it was possible to play the game at RFK Stadium, which formerly hosted the Redskins and Nationals and now is the home of Major League Soccer's DC United.
"I think we'll take a look at everything. We'll look at Nationals Park, we'll talk to FedEx, we'll go visit RFK," Collins said. "We'll look at all the venues. We'll look at all opportunities."
It will mark the second time the Capitals will play in a Winter Classic. Eric Fehr scored two goals, including the game-winner, when the Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-1, in the 2011 Winter Classic, played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
That was the first night game in Winter Classic history.
"We are extremely excited to host the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and bring this great event to the D.C. area," Leonsis said. "Our great fan base deserves to experience the magnificence of an outdoor game. We are thrilled to once again be part of this great event."
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