People around here like to call Minnesota “The State of Hockey.” Passion for the sport at all levels might be unparalleled anywhere else south of the Canadian border, so when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spent a few minutes with the media here at RiverCentre before the 2011 Lester Patrick Awards, a much-talked about subject in this region was bound to come up -- the Winter Classic.
The Winter Classic has been a huge success for the NHL. The game this January will be the fifth installment, and speculation where it might be next or in the future is always a popular topic for hockey fans.
So what about the Twin Cities as a future host?
"There's no shortage of demand, but clearly, ultimately, this is one of the places we will probably get to if for no other reason the climate and the interest," Bettman said.
There a couple of enticing venues in the area, namely a brand-new baseball stadium in Target Field and a brand-new college football stadium in TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. There could also be a new facility for the Vikings at some point in the future.
Finding people to come to an event like that in this region certainly wouldn’t be a problem. It was also a logical place to host this event tonight, given the order on the docket is to celebrate people’s contributions to hockey in this country.
“I love to come to St. Paul. The level of interest in our game here is phenomenal,” Bettman said. “This has been a terrific franchise for us. I love the arena, the Xcel Energy Center. To be able to bring an important event that recognizes the accomplishments that have been devoted to our game -- there is no better place to do that than here.”