March 12, 2010
Winter Classic in Canada?Leafs make pitch for outdoor game
By JOE WARMINGTON, QMI Agency
Leafs Nation might want to mark Jan. 1, 2012, down on their calendars.
Although it hasn't yet been granted, just one line at the bottom of a press release Thursday created quite a stir: "The Toronto Maple Leafs have . . . expressed a desire to host the 2012 NHL Winter Classic at BMO Field."
Stop the presses.
That, if the NHL accepts the bid, would be some party!
And the plan is not just to make it an outdoor NHL hockey game, but also giant New Years Day bash for 30,000 fans to attend and for the whole city take part.
The Maple Leafs, who already have a popular annual outdoor practice on a neighbourhood rink, made its first attempt to formally apply for the NHL's highly successful annual outdoor game and that had fans at The Hangar last night stoked.
"Wow. That's awesome," Kelly Spencer said. "We have the best hockey fans in the world and certainly the weather for it."
"Where do a buy my ticket?" Kristen Craig added.
But it's far from a done deal. This is simply the Leafs, who also applied for another all-star game and an NHL entry draft, officially alerting the NHL they are extremely interested in following the footsteps of Edmonton, Buffalo, Chicago and Boston.
"There is a lot of competition for that game," said Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment President Richard Peddie. "But the league knows we would do everything to make it a great event."
And an event is what it would be.
"We have so much room around BMO as well," says Peddie. "We have the food building right there and there could be all sorts of events to make it very special."
Bob Hunter, MLSE executive vice-president of venues and entertainment, said the idea conveyed to the NHL is one of a unique weekend of alumni games, perhaps an OHL game or girls game to go with the a regular season NHL match-up.
The Leafs say Mayor David Miller has even sent a letter of support to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
What an historic hockey weekend that would be.
You can see the potential.
BMO holds about 20,000 for the Toronto FC soccer games and soon will expand, adding an additional 1,400 seats.
The Leafs' plan for this game is to try to accommodate up to 10,000 additional people on the field at ice level.
"It would create a party atmosphere," said Hunter, adding the actual portable outdoor ice rink plant is something owned by the NHL and brought to the host city.
For hockey-mad Hogtown, this is a no-brainer. Over to you Commish! How many sleeps until Jan. 1, 2012?