Talks underway to bring NHL Winter Classic game to Calgary


Fans react to a helicopter flyover prior to the 2008 NHL Winter Classic game on January 1, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

Fans react to a helicopter flyover prior to the 2008 NHL Winter Classic game on January 1, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

Photograph by: Rick Stewart, Getty Images for the NHL

CALGARY - It's true. The Calgary Flames are in talks about hosting an outdoor game on New Year's Day.

"I have heard discussions," said John Haverstock, manager of McMahon Stadium — the host venue for the event. "I guess it's a possibility, but to say it's close to reality is not correct. It's just so far been discussions.

"I think it would be very cool for the city. Logistically, it's possible. We had an artificial-ice surface at McMahon before at the closing ceremonies for the 1988 Olympics. So it can be done."

Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss, too, confirmed that the idea is being batted around.

"I heard there have been discussions," said Hotchkiss. "We would be an obvious choice. But I haven't heard anything (concrete)."

Flames president Ken King is aware of reports, too, that his team is making plans to host the 2010 Winter Classic.

That it would be the second of two outdoor games that day in the National Hockey League. The 2010 Winter Classic will be the third straight year the NHL has held the event, although this would be the first double-header edition.

But King, reached late Thursday night, refused to confirm any of it.

At the same time, he didn't discount its possibility.

"If that were to take place," said King, "we'd be thrilled to be involved."

If the Flames' plans are approved, the McMahon crew will be hopping — first, the 2009 Grey Cup in late November; then the outdoor shinny match just scant weeks later.

Any practical problems with that?

"Only for the mental health of my staff," said Haverstock. "Obviously the Grey Cup is a very big event, but this is do-able."

According to one league source, the Flames would likely draw a Canadian opponent.

The earlier game that day would feature the Boston Bruins, operating out of Fenway Park, against either the Washington Capitals or the Philadelphia Flyers.

In 2003, the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium. That marked the first outdoor match.

Since then, there have been two other fresh-air faceoffs — in 2008, when the the Buffalo Sabres welcomed the Pittsburgh Penguins to Ralph Wilson Stadium; last season, when the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings squared off at Wrigley Field.


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Fans react to a helicopter flyover prior to the 2008 NHL Winter Classic game on January 1, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

Fans react to a helicopter flyover prior to the 2008 NHL Winter Classic game on January 1, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

Photograph by: Rick Stewart, Getty Images for the NHL

Fans react to a helicopter flyover prior to the 2008 NHL Winter Classic game on January 1, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.
1988 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies at McMahon Stadium. Artificial ice was used at the stadium during the games, something that will be repeated if Calgary were to land the second game in the 2010 NHL Winter Classic.
Wrigley Field in Chicago hosted the 2009 Winter Classic.

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June 20, 2009 - 1:03 PM
 What a totally stupid idea. All this does is take the focus off the Boston game and turn this "classic" into anything but. This event has now officially sold out. It is no longer special. I guess this is what happens though when you mix greed with business in Alberta. They take as much profit as fast as they can and leave future generations to deal with hazardous tailing ponds and a dead winter classic. Who cares about future or the overall health of the league?
June 20, 2009 - 11:38 AM
 As much as I really love hockey, I will sit this one out and watch it at home in the warmth of my living room with the fireplace on. Having a team from the East play here would make it alot more interresting, a canadian team that is.
Butch Luke
June 20, 2009 - 5:39 AM
 Perhaps they could have Pro Wreslting entertainment between periods.
Calgary Bob
June 19, 2009 - 10:17 PM
 Just another Cash Cow for the NHL. Would only catch me watching this live and in the stadium is if they paid ME 2 million dollars. I refuse to watch professional cry babies spitting all over the place.
June 19, 2009 - 3:30 PM
 Yes I'm sure Calgary will appreciate an outdoor game on the same day as the Classic in Boston. The novelty will surely wear off for casual NHL fans however because this event will no longer be a special one-off. What's really unbelievable is that it took the NHL only 4 tries before they were able to ruin the only date on the sports' calendar that casual fans care about. That's got to be a record! Way to go NHL! Let's cheapen the overall product so that the Flames can get in on the action and gouge fans for seats with terrible sight lines! Suckers.
to good laugh
June 19, 2009 - 3:19 PM
 Didnt edmonton already hold one of these games? Besides Calgary is a better city than edmonton which smells like garbage, get over it edmonton sucks
Hey Sloppy
June 19, 2009 - 2:09 PM
 The NFL has actually moved the Pro Bowl away from Hawaii, in 2010 it will be played the weekend BEFORE the Super Bowl in Miami which is also the host of the Super Bowl.
Good Laugh
June 19, 2009 - 12:10 PM
 Based on Calgary's recent classless moves - I guess this means that Edmonton should now put in a competing bid to host this. That said, if Calgary wants this, why not shoot for 2011 instead of a double header in 2010, which just reduces the importance of both games.
Johan Sebastian Bock
June 19, 2009 - 12:01 PM

Seriously, Jim Balsillie should swoop this one up and bring it to the old Ivor Wynn Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario (and let the Flames play in it)

Re: Lee
June 19, 2009 - 11:57 AM
 We won't miss ya buds. The NHL will get great ratings from the second game without your whiny ass.
June 19, 2009 - 11:54 AM
 Frankly I think the NFL has the right idea with special games. The Pro-Bowl is played in Hawaii as a means of giving a well deserving market a game, where it would normally be cost prohibitive as a franchise location. I think the winter classic should be held in a market such as that. Bring it to Alaska, although as a Canadian I feel it should be placed in a location more in-line with those who have been robbed of their Quebec or Winnipeg.
Calgary 1
June 19, 2009 - 11:53 AM
 Let Calgary have it. As it's in Calgary it will be the best outdoor event of any type anywhere in history. All our events are the best in the world as we are the best in the world in everything! We should be proclaimed as the Capital of the World! Yahoo!!!
June 19, 2009 - 11:53 AM
 Ok, it's now official: I will not be watching either game of the winter classic this year. I'm not a Flames' fan or a Leafs' fan and it is clear that this is now just a novelty, so why should I bother? The Winter Classic starts to lose momentum by the third period anyway. There is basically zero crowd interaction so the game feels like a glorified practice. If I actually do get sucked into watching this I'm guaranteed to be bored by the end of the Boston game, so why would I possibly continue watching two teams that I hate? The NHL just proved again that they have no idea about how to market their game. They were given a great marketing tool and watched it blossom organically but now they have diluted the product and killed anything special about the event.
June 19, 2009 - 11:39 AM
 This would be awsome, Flames vs. any other canadian team, oilers would be ideal because flames and oilers games are the best in canada, toronto or montreal would be ok too though, vancouver would be my last pick. Just as long as its not the flames and coyotes or another american team...that would be kinda lame
June 19, 2009 - 11:32 AM
 You knew it was only a matter of time until the NHL totally screwed up the winter classic. The Flames organization just doesn't get this. The draw for TV viewers is the spectacular or interesting setting and the allure of ONE GAME to focus on. Wrigley field in the winter? How cool is that? McMahon Stadium in the winter after watching a game at Fenway Park no less? No bloody thanks! Do you really think I want to watch TWO outdoor classics on the same day? Do you really think I want to watch hockey played in a lifeless building like McMahon stadium? Thank you Flames organization and the NHL for ruining yet another event. It was bad enough that the NHL scheduled other games after the Classic last year, but takes the cake. I will guarantee that I won't be watching an outdoor double header this year. The novelty of one outdoor game seems to rub off after 3 hours already.
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