ST. LOUIS - The rivalry between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks has gotten so intense that it’s time to take it outside.
Busch Stadium, in fact.
After nine years of watching outdoor games on TVs in our living rooms, the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is finally coming to St. Louis on Jan. 2, 2017, when the Blues and Blackhawks drop the puck with the Gateway Arch and the St. Louis skyline serving as the backdrop.
“We’re just ecstatic about it - not only for the St. Louis Blues organization, but for St. Louis as a whole,” said Blues Chairman Tom Stillman. “It’s such a huge event. It’s one of the great events in sports, and it’s coming to our city. Our fans and the rest of the city are going to really enjoy it.”
The announcement came just as the Blues were preparing to face the Chicago Blackhawks in a critical division matchup at Scottrade Center. The teams have battled in the same division since the 1970-71 season and have met 11 times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“We are proud and honored to be chosen as the host city for the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” said Chris Zimmerman, the Blues President and CEO of Business Operations. “Our organization and our fans have been clamoring for this opportunity to showcase the city of St. Louis and one of the greatest rivalries in sports. This will be a historic event at Busch Stadium and a great addition to our 50th anniversary celebration.”
The Blues will become the 23rd NHL team to play in an outdoor game.
“It’s something that guys talk about for years after they’re done,” Blues captain David Backes told stlouisblues.com. “It’s nice that it’s coming to St. Louis. Our fans have been yearning for something like that. It will be quite the spectacle.
“I’ve gone to (Busch Stadium) plenty of times as a spectator, watching a great franchise win a lot of games,” Backes added. “Now we’ll get to play on their turf, with their hospitality and 50,000 fans going nuts for a Central Division matchup. It’s going to be quite the experience.”
Tickets for the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will go on sale at a later date. Fans can visit stlouisblues.com now to sign up and be notified when tickets become available. To receive priority access to purchase tickets, fans must renew their ticket plan or place a deposit on a full-season ticket plan or a partial ticket plan package for the 2016-17 season. Renewals and new sales will begin Thursday at 10 a.m. To purchase a new package, call 314-622-BLUE (2583).
“We’ve seen how great the Winter Classics are,” Blues goalie Jake Allen said. “The energy and the passion, it’s a big thing for our city. We’ve been one of the best organizations in the NHL the last 50 years and next year is our 50th anniversary, so to be able to have that to look forward to next year is going to huge for us, our city, and the organization.
“It’s nine months away, but I’m looking forward to it already.”