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Winter Classic Wish List

by | Special to CBSSports.com
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The NHL's annual Winter Classic has become a must-see event. The league has showcased some of its biggest stars and teams, played in historic venues such as Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, and even benefitted from a picturesque backdrop of snowfall during the inaugural game in Buffalo, N.Y.

So how does the league move forward in keeping the Winter Classic from becoming just another game? We've put together our wish list of obvious and out-of-the-box locales where the NHL could create some interesting combinations of venue and matchup. Click on a puck below to read more.

 
 

Minneapolis Green Bay Ann Arbor St. Louis Nashville Columbus New York City Washington D.C. Raleigh Jacksonville Dallas Denver Los Angeles San Francisco Minneapolis Green Bay Detroit Columbus New York City Washington D.C. North Carolina Jacksonville Nashville St. Louis Dallas Denver California California
New York, N.Y.
Yankee Stadium / Meadowlands Stadium / Citi Field
Yankee Stadium, Meadowlands Stadium, Citi Field
For the city so nice they named it twice, how about a Winter Classic doubleheader? Imagine Rangers-Devils at Yankee Stadium or New Meadowlands Stadium, followed by Islanders-Flyers at Citi Field. The Mets and Yankees played separate Subway Series games in different stadiums on the same day in both 2000 and 2003, so the precedent's been set. Playing two hockey games in one day in the fictional home of "Mad Men" would generate the kind of publicity the NHL craves. And the Rangers already have experience playing outdoors, albeit in the tinier, fictional locale of Mystery, Alaska. Photos by Getty Images
Los Angeles, Calif.
Rose Bowl / Dodger Stadium
Rose Bowl, Dodger Stadium
Anyone who's ever watched the Rose Bowl knows what a picturesque venue it is. More importantly to the folks at the NHL, the national historic landmark can accommodate more than 100,000 fans, making it the perfect Hollywood backdrop for "The Freeway Faceoff" between the Kings and Ducks. Commissioner Gary Bettman has tried to grow the league in warm weather locales, and -- since climate apparently presents no special problems for the NHL's icemakers -- this seems almost too perfect. And it might be since the Rose Bowl game has been played on New Year's Day virtually every year since 1916. One solution? Travel down the Pasadena Freeway to Chavez Ravine and Dodger Stadium. Photos by Getty Images
Dallas/Arlington, Texas
Cowboys Stadium
Cowboys Stadium
This one's another pretty easy sell. Put the Stars under the world's largest HD TV screen inside Jerry Jones' gleaming $1.3 billion gem. Cowboys Stadium already has hosted an NBA All-Star Game and the Pacquiao-Margarito fight and will be the site of Super Bowl XLV in February. The annual Cotton Bowl game could present logistical problems, but Jones basks in the spotlight and there's none bigger during the NHL regular season. The Buffalo Sabres (think 1999 Stanley Cup Finals rematch) or Phoenix Coyotes would make a suitable foe. Photo by Getty Images
Denver, Colo.
Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium
Mile High Stadium
The NHL can join the Mile High Club by playing the Winter Classic adjacent to the Pepsi Center at Invesco Field. Given the Broncos' recent struggles, there shouldn't be a conflict with an NFL playoff game. If the league seeks crossover Canadian appeal, the Avalanche can play the Vancouver Canucks; if not, the Minnesota Wild would be a good opponent. Photo by Getty Images
Minneapolis, Minn./Green Bay, Wisc.
Target Field / Lambeau Field
Target Field, Lambeau Field
Minnesota bills itself as "The State of Hockey," but the outdoor options in the Twin Cities are limited to the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium and the Twins' new Target Field. Neither is very large -- the Golden Gophers' home seats just under 51,000, while Target Field can barely fit 42,000. That would make tickets to a Winter Classic featuring the Wild a tough ticket. An intriguing and historic alternative is Lambeau Field, a roughly 4 1/2-hour drive from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The home of the Packers brings its own set of problems, however: a potential conflict with an NFL playoff game and the bitter cold associated with the venue. But how easy would it be for the NHL to promote "The Winter Classic at the Ice Bowl"? Photos by Getty Images
Minneapolis, Minn./Green Bay, Wis.
Target Field / Lambeau Field
Target Field, Lambeau Field
Minnesota bills itself as "The State of Hockey," but the outdoor options in the Twin Cities are limited to the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium and the Twins' new Target Field. Neither is very large -- the Golden Gophers' home seats just under 51,000, while Target Field can barely fit 42,000. That would make tickets to a Winter Classic featuring the Wild a tough ticket. An intriguing and historic alternative is Lambeau Field, a roughly 4 1/2-hour drive from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The home of the Packers brings its own set of problems, however: a potential conflict with an NFL playoff game and the bitter cold associated with the venue. But how easy would it be for the NHL to promote "The Winter Classic at the Ice Bowl"? Photos by Getty Images
Jacksonville/Gainesville, Fla.
Everbank Stadium / Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field
EverBank Field, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Every year, EverBank Field hosts the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party when Southeastern Conference rivals Florida and Georgia battle on the gridiron. Those states can go it again on ice when the Atlanta Thrashers face the Florida Panthers or Tampa Bay Lightning. If hosting the annual Gator Bowl is a roadblock, the game could be moved 60 miles southeast to the University of Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, whose seating capacity of 88,548 is actually larger than EverBank Field. Photos by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons
Columbus, Ohio
Ohio Stadium
Ohio Stadium
Sticking with the college theme, Michigan and Ohio can renew their century-old rivalry at "The Horseshoe." The Detroit Red Wings, who played the Blackhawks in the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, can make the trip south to the Buckeye State to take on the Blue Jackets before some 106,000 rabid fans. The game would be a boost to a Columbus franchise in need of one. Photo by S. Korry, Wikimedia Commons
Nashville, Tenn.
LP Field
LP Field
Another team that could use a shot in the arm is the Predators. LP Field, home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans, seats 69,000 and Nashville could generate crossover appeal by reaching out to the city's well-established music community. The Ottawa Senators may not register with Nielsen viewers, but they do feature Mike Fisher, who happens to be married to country superstar Carrie Underwood. And maybe Tim McGraw could do a live chorus from "I Like It, I Love It" every time the Preds score. Photo by Getty Images
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Michigan Stadium
Michigan Stadium
Red and white could easily replace maize and blue for one day at Michigan Stadium, which sits barely 40 miles due west of Detroit. Loaded with recognizable names, the Red Wings already are a fixture on national TV. And more than 113,000 fans watched "The Big Chill at the Big House," which pitted CCHA archrivals Michigan and Michigan State earlier this month. The challenge for this venue would be finding a suitable opponent, since the Wings already played the Blackhawks in the 2009 Winter Classic. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who spent 17 years in the same division as Detroit, would make this game appealing on both sides of the border. Photo by Getty Images
Raleigh, N.C.
Carter-Finley Stadium
Carter-Finley Stadium
The NHL wouldn't have to travel far from the site of the 2011 All-Star Game if it awarded the Winter Classic to the Hurricanes -- 58,000-seat Carter-Finley Stadium is across the street from the RBC Center. Want to generate interest in the heart of NASCAR country? Pit the hosts against Alexander Ovechkin and the Southeast Division-rival Capitals. Photo by Getty Images
St. Louis, Mo.
Busch Stadium
Busch Stadium
Busch Stadium is a usually a sea of red during the baseball season, but a Winter Classic in the shadow of the gateway arch could create an ocean of blue. The Blues have been talking up the idea for more than a year and have the support of Cardinals president -- and hockey fan -- Bill DeWitt III. Baseball fans throughout the midwest typically travel to Busch to see the Cards, and Blues president Dave Checketts believes the Winter Classic would have similar regional appeal. Photo by Kevin Ward, Wikimedia Commons
Washington, D.C.
National Mall
National Mall
While Nationals Park, RFK Stadium or FedEx Field in suburban Landover, Md., are the likely sites should the Capitals host the Winter Classic, one can only dream of the game being played on the National Mall. Hey, if the KHL can play its All-Star Game in Red Square ... Alas, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has already shot down the idea, blogging, "It simply won't happen. I truly understand the desire to do something unique, but to replicate what is needed to produce the game on the Mall would not be feasible." C'mon, Ted, think outside the box -- lobby for the Blackhawks as an opponent and perhaps a certain Pennsylvania Avenue resident attend will attend. Photo by U.S. Navy, Wikimedia Commons
San Francisco, Calif.
AT&T Park
AT&T Park
Weather would be the primary concern when considering AT&T Park. The Bay Area's famed fog is one thing, but the city gets an average of nearly 5 inches of rain in January. That would wreak havoc on the temporary rink. Still, hockey in the shadow of the Bay Bridge along McCovey Cove is enticing. The Sharks, who played their home games in San Francisco for two seasons, could face any of their Pacific Division rivals. Photo by Getty Images
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