Comparing Possible Venues for the Winter Classic


Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

This morning we talked about whom the Capitals might play against at the fabled 2015 Winter Classic, which we are due to learn about on Saturday. Word on the street is that it’ll be Boston or Philly (probably Philly), but that doesn’t matter as our discussion quickly devolved into where the game would be held.

I was at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on that gloriously balmy January day back in 2011. It was magical, with nearly a birds-eye-view of the on-ice action and the largest crowd I’ve ever screamed next to at a hockey game.

The Winter Classic is all about that scope, that grandeur, that nostalgia, and that crass financial exploitation of an unsuspecting fanbase. It won’t get any bigger and $$$-ier than this year’s Winter Classic, held at the 100k-seating Big House in Michigan. So where will it be in 2015?

It’s a complicated question. Regional loyalties, security, sight lines, occupancy, and Dan Snyder’s undiluted evil all play into the equation– as does the fact that it NEVER SNOWS IN DC ANYMORE.

Let’s run through the candidates together.

Nationals Park


Located in an up-and-coming neighborhood along the Anacostia River in the Southeast corner of the city, Nats Park is an easily accessible baseball stadium for anyone in the DMV. Home of the Washington Nationals, a team that makes up for its wildly uncreative name with a spirited young squad that totally, totally deserved the ludicrous ranking Sports Illustrated gave them before the season.

While Nats Park has fantastic food, it also has all the awful sightlines endemic to watching hockey in a ballpark.

Nonetheless, if we were making odds, Nats Park would be the favorite by a mile.

FedEx Field


Photo via @FlowGator15

Known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium for about 90 seconds, FedEx Field is a concrete monstrosity located in the untamed wilds of Landover, Maryland. Ostensibly the home of Washington’s football club, FedEx is actually just Dan Snyder’s Death Star, which is currently incapable of flight but retains the operational capacity to destroy human souls. Parking at FedEx costs your first-born son, which isn’t so bad considering leaving the stadium by car takes a length of time equal to a human baby’s gestation.

Watching outdoor hockey in a football stadium is ideal. Heinz Field in Pittsburgh proved that. But it’s looking unlikely:

RFK Stadium


The current home of DC United until a new soccer stadium is built in SE, RFK is the crumbling remnant of football inside the beltway. It is literally falling apart (Steinberg link #2!). Those of you who want to reminisce about paying $120 to see Bon Jovi look bored while playing there or the time you got sweated on by 200 people simultaneously while some ska band skanked onstage at the HFStival might be excited about the possibility of a Winter Classic there, but people will literally die. Screaming, falling from the shambles of the upper deck as NBC Sports cuts to a Bridgestone tire commercial.

The earth will soon swallow RFK, toxic mold and all. It’s an antique– a relic of the Cold War, only here for a moment or two longer. No hockey.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards


Located 55 minutes from Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Camden Yards is the jewel of the Major League. Its picturesque skyline and historic warehouse (hit just once by a home run, Ken Griffey, Jr.’s, in the home-run derby) make it a must-see destination for any true sports fan. Two-time World Series-winner Boog Powell can still be seen slinging barbeque on Eutaw St. during sunny summer days, as can the garden of statues featuring the Greatest Human Ever to Breathe, Cal Ripken, Jr. (Peace Be Upon Him). Some say if you stand  behind home plate, and the wind blows just right, you can still hear Earl Weaver urging women to worry less about when to plant tomatoes and more about “where their next lay is coming from.” 

OPACY is, simply, the Greatest Place. It is Magic. It is the One True Venue for all sports. Eventually, jai alai, swim meets, and laser-tag tournaments will be held there. Might as well start with the Winter Classic. It’s inevitable. Give into it. Old Bay on ALL THE THINGS.

The Mall


It’s not going to happen.

It’s not.

But it should.

There are a million reasons why it cannot happen.

But it should.

Ticket sales wouldn’t come close to the 100,000+ that they’ll sell at the Big House this year, but the scope could be so much grander than that.

Monuments dot the landscape. Modest grandstands flank the ice. Temporary facilities are erected nearby for security and safety. 1.9 miles of open space between the Capitol steps and the Lincoln Memorial are filled with activities: hockey exhibitions, mite tournaments, stages for bands, games, beer gardens, press centers, a hockey history museum, and more beer gardens.

It’d mean foregoing a ton of box-office sales, but DVD sales and the avalanche of goodwill would in time make up for it.

But it’s not going to happen.

  • timeconsumer2113

    Someone doesn’t like the Redskins, now don’t they?

  • Don’t you mean the professional football team in Washington? 🙂

  • Shane Smallwood

    The game should not be in a non-DC environment.

  • BPThomas

    Earl Weaver is a god damned gem.

  • The team is fine. The owner is the worst.

  • BPThomas

    And that’s probably the main reason Nats park is at the top of the list.

  • Ian made a good point that Uncle Ted is friendly with Nats ownership.

  • Michael Lawson

    the mall would be so bad ass

  • beachrats

    There is a Professional Football team in DC? Seriously, there is?

  • VeggieTart

    Not to mention Nationals Park is considerably more accessible than FedEx field, although Metro is almost always a fustercluck.

  • They’re not professional in my eyes until they win a damn game.

  • remrats

    Camden Yards but not M&T Bank for consideration? I agree it should be in D.C. and the purple seats would look aweful. But if you consider Camden you should consider it.

  • Tyler

    Reston Town Center.

  • Chris Pavlakos

    They also don’t play in DC.

  • HoboCode

    RFK is great! I just went to the USA-Germany match there three months ago and that was SOLD OUT jam packed full of soccer fans. Soccer fans. Guess what? No one died. At least at RFK a kid might not find a makeshift shiv made out of a beer can bottle like they would at FedEx.

  • Why go to M&T when lovely, perfect, flawless, unbesmirched OPACY is right next door?

    (Yeah, fair point.)

  • beachrats

    Maybe win a playoff game this century would be good.

  • beachrats

    NFL Season still playing

  • Julie A Rassa

    Camden Yards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Yes, the Lerners and Leonsises are very friendly. I would be shocked if they don’t do it at Nats Park.

  • Chip

    RFK is an absolute crap hole. If 1st Mariner isn’t good enough for a hockey game (it’s definitely not) no hockey should be played at RFK either haha

    I’d prefer OPACY to Nats Park because I’m an O’s fan, but it deserves to be played in DC so I’d be more than happy with Nats Park.

  • timeconsumer2113

    Oriole Park is the perfect place. Hands down the best stadium in the DMV area.

  • Rhino40

    …Between the Hyatt and Clyde’s?


  • if by DMV area you mean “THE ENTIRE WORLD”, totally.

  • Tim Filliaux

    Would love to see it at Camden yards since it’s only less than 5 miles from my house! The winter classic was a blast up in pittsburgh, can’t wait for this one!

  • David Rothman

    “FedEx is actually just Dan Snyder’s Death Star, which is currently incapable of flight but retains the operational capacity to destroy human souls.”

    Bless you sir. I snorted.

  • Too bad DC United’s stadium won’t be constructed in time. It’d be perfect. Of course my #1 choice would be the Mall (preferably ON THE FROZEN REFLECTING POOL!), but it’s not gonna happen. Nats Park for sure. RFK is too old, FedEx is in the middle of nowhere, and Camden Yards is nice but too far away.

  • Bryan J. Casto

    What about Byrd Stadium? Close enough to DC, holds 50k+, and has good sight lines all around. They also have all of the new luxury boxes, and no competing sports at that time of year. Could be a dark horse if Nationals Park falls through.

  • yv

    Great, funny descriptions and Camden Yard would be great!
    Baltimore Harbor area also has M&T stadium, but b/c of Ravens some scheduling problems also. However, great parking spaces and easy exits from both venues to I-95. But in both cases no Flyers, otherwise too close to them and too many oranges.

  • Mark Otterson

    It will probably be at Nats Park since Lerner is a minor partner in Monumental Sports.

  • Mark Otterson

    It can’t be at M&T or FedEx since they could be playing football still.

  • Tyler


  • PleaseKillMe

    Please tell me I didn’t just read the words “Washington’s football club,” and if I did, please tell me it’s not what I am thinking.

  • Ryan Odell

    Beat me to it. This is the comment I had constructed as well.

  • Glenn Havinoviski

    Nats Park hands down. If you have it in good ol’ Raljon, MD (yes that’s whst they called it when JKC stadium opened), you need Flyers or Bruins fans to fill the place. As there are almost no hoteks in that area, they will likely stay in campers or camp out on peoples lawns in Landover. Thus no revenue is earned and we have to clean up after the bastards. Nats Park it is then, filled with nothing but Caps fans.

  • Owen Johnson

    Camden Yards? It’s a beautiful stadium but come on. Why don’t we just play in Richmond instead? Or maybe Martinsburg, West Virginia has a good venue.
    Keep it in the DC area, although Camden Yards is a billion times better than Daniel Stalin’s Soviet Gulag.

  • Owen Johnson

    I was there too. It’s a great venue for International Soccer matches because it loud and raucous and the seats bounce. But it is old and dilapidated.

  • Owen Johnson

    Nah, I’m sure the new DCU stadium is gonna be really nice, but it won’t be big enough.
    But omg NOT FedEx. Darth Snyder is NOT getting my money.

  • Owen Johnson

    Actually the more I think about it, the more I want it at RFK.

  • evan

    RFK offers the best in sightlines and capacity IMO. Yeah it’s falling apart, but it could handle a Winter Classic. It’s just one day.

  • schumatrix

    That got a good chortle out of me. Well done.

  • John Lindner

    I am telling you have a “Skills Competion” or Shoot out, or Alumni Game on the Lincoln Pool..

  • @TimHanson26

    How does the NFL season play into this? The Caps played the Pens at Heinz Field, in something like 4-7 days after the Steelers last played. The NHL has the logistics and crew to turn a football field over, into a frozen sheet of awesomeness!

    Personally, I think RFK could be iconic, but since everything the NHL does is driven by the powerful dollar, Nats park will get the call. Simple economics: Metro, parking, vendors, and the neighborhood is on the up and up.

    But who knows… the NHL has suprised all of us before. Here’s to hoping Bettman doesn’t chooch up our opponent!

    Go Caps!

  • reason

    baltimore has shown it doesn’t care about hockey they didn’t show up for the classic, they couldn’t make ice for it, looked like it was falling apart more than rfk. this was award to Washing D.C.not the place in maryland that according to the news lately is considering having a curfew.

  • reason

    since we are considering the out of non dc sports team place why not m and t stadium sinceit shares a parking lot with orioles park? wait i know, because it has nothing to do with the area that received the winter classic which is D.C.

  • jeremiah

    best post. showing how crazy it is to consider baltimore

  • reason

    the NHL and the caps will totally take into account how far the winter classic is from you house.

  • Owen Johnson

    Especially since we might be playing the Flyers and Baltimore is 1/3 of the way to Philly. Kinda defeats the whole purpose of us hosting the game.

  • Ralph Cox

    What about where the Wizards play!?

  • picturesandtalk

    That didn’t stop the Caps/Pens Classic from happening.

  • Jeremy S.

    Anyone saying M&T Bank Stadium or FedEx Field should be a venue: They cannot host it because both are hosting NCAAF Bowl games that day. No ifs ands or buts. It cannot happen because the NCAA already has them reserved. Byrd Stadium is the only football stadium in the area that isn’t hosting a New Year’s Day Bowl Game.