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Several cities vie to be future Winter Classic sites

Wednesday, 01.14.2009 / 7:55 PM / News

By NHL.com Staff

The new Yankee Stadium, Penn State's football stadium, Washington D.C. and Boston are possible sites for future editions of the Jan. 1 NHL Winter Classic, NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins told Bloomberg News.

"This is really kind of becoming a destination event for hockey fans, but also sports fans," Collins told Bloomberg. "We want to open it up to the masses."

The NHL Winter Classic will likely continue to be a feature of the NHL's New Year's Day schedule after the game between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks drew 40,818 fans to Wrigley Field and produced the highest TV ratings for the NHL since 1975. Last year's first NHL Winter Classic drew 71,217 fans to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo.

The NHL spent more than $1 million last year on a custom-made refrigeration truck and other equipment, allowing better control of the ice surface.

"The new rink opens up a lot of opportunities," Collins said.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who last year committed state funding to the new hockey arena being built in Pittsburgh, approached NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about holding a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers at Penn State University's Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Collins said.

Bloomberg News said that city officials in Washington, Detroit, Philadelphia and Minneapolis have also expressed an interest in hosting the NHL Winter Classic.

"Of course, New York would be high on the list," Collins said. "But we also think Boston could be a really special market, and Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Denver, Montreal and Toronto. There are so many different places."

The NHL likely will require cities to bid for future NHL Winter Classic games, as the NFL does with the Super Bowl. Future NHL Winter Classics will be scheduled two years in advance, allowing the NHL and host cities more time for marketing the game. No official discussions have been held with cities yet, Collins said.

"All of these places are fabulous and we should and will get to all of them," he said. "If I had my way, I'd play all the games outside."
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