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NHL Winter Classic

Stars, Predators eager to play 2020 Winter Classic at Cotton Bowl Stadium

Roughly 70,000 expected to attend New Year's Day spectacle at iconic venue

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

DALLAS -- Ben Bishop went to the State Fair of Texas in 2005, when he was going to Frisco High and playing for Texas of the North American Hockey League. He saw Big Tex, the fair's huge cowboy mascot, and the outside of Cotton Bowl Stadium.

Jamie Benn went inside the stadium a couple of years ago, when he sat in the stands to watch the Red River Rivalry, the annual college football game between Oklahoma and Texas.

Never did they think they would play a hockey game here.

 

[RELATED: Winter Classic logo captures Texas flair for Stars-Predators game]

 

But here were the goalie and the forward Wednesday for a press conference to promote the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, wearing their Dallas Stars jerseys, throwing footballs and kicking soccer balls on the same field where so many legends once played.

And here they will play the Nashville Predators on New Year's Day.

"Being a spectator for a football game was pretty amazing," Benn said. "So I can only imagine being in a hockey game."

Tickets will go on sale to season-ticket holders April 1 and to the general public April 23, priced from $55 to $465.

Capacity will be about 70,000, even though the stadium holds more than 90,000 for football, because obstructed-view seats won't be included and other seats will be removed for staging.

Video: Stars, Predators to play at Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1

The Stars have a list of more than 50,000 people who have expressed interest in tickets, and they will hold a hockey tournament at their eight local rinks at the same time and plan to have 10,000 to 15,000 youth players in the stands, Stars president Brad Alberts said.

The Predators expect thousands of their fans to travel from Nashville.

"You guys have got great fans; we've got very passionate fans," Predators general manager David Poile said. "This has all the makings of the best game ever."

This will be the 12th Winter Classic, but it will be the first held south and west of St. Louis, and the first outdoor game for Dallas and Nashville.

It will be a party. The Stars are working on a concert at American Airlines Center on New Year's Eve, though nothing has been finalized yet. The NHL will hold The PreGame fan festival outside the stadium at Fair Park. The entertainment for the game has not been announced, but expect a country music theme.

Video: A look at the 2020 Winter Classic in Dallas, Texas

It will honor this grand old place.

"You are not going to believe what this iconic stadium is going to look like," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

Cotton Bowl Stadium opened in 1930 and has been home to multiple football and soccer teams, including the NFL's Dallas Cowboys from 1960-71. From 1937-2009, it hosted the Cotton Bowl Classic. This is where a flu-ridden Joe Montana downed chicken soup and Notre Dame downed Houston 35-34 on Jan. 1, 1979, when temperatures were in the 20s with a sub-zero wind chill - "or, as we like to call it, hockey weather," Commissioner Bettman said.

"The history and nostalgia here is unlike any other venue in our city," Alberts said. "For many years, the Cotton Bowl was the beginning of a great day of college football on New Year's Day. We, along with the Predators and the NHL, are happy to bring back the tradition of a marquee event at this historic venue on the first of January."

The players cannot wait.

Video: Jim Nill on the 2020 Winter Classic against Nashville

Bishop spent most of his childhood in St. Louis. He was a fan of the St. Louis Blues in hockey and the St. Louis Cardinals in baseball. So when the Blues played the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium in the 2017 NHL Winter Classic and he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning ...

"I had some serious jealousy," he said.

Stars forward Tyler Seguin used the same word for his experience. He played for the Boston Bruins from 2010-13 -- after they played the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park and before they played the Montreal Canadiens in the 2016 Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium.

"Wasn't sure if I'd ever get the opportunity," Seguin said. "But now this is a dream come true, and I'm really excited."

Now imagine the kids coming from all over the continent for that hockey tournament at the same time as the Winter Classic. Imagine them sitting in the stands watching the game. Imagine other kids -- maybe football fans, maybe soccer fans -- intrigued because this hockey game happens to be in front of a huge crowd outdoors at Cotton Bowl Stadium.

"I really want to use this game as a catalyst to introduce young kids to hockey that probably wouldn't otherwise be paying attention," Alberts said. "I want to see in 20 years, 'Hey, I went to the Winter Classic, and that's what made me want to be a hockey player.' "

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