Leonsis on D.C. Winter Classic location: ‘I think Nats Park would be a natural place’

October 8, 2013

(AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

Fans were able to ask Ted Leonsis questions on Twitter to answer during his hour-long interview on WTOP on Tueday. There weren’t many, but in this case, quality counts. Bog reader William Yurasko asked about the location of D.C.’s upcoming Winter Classic with his tweet.

Unfortunately, Leonsis could make no such promises.

“I think that’s a fair question and I wish I could commit, but I’m a part of the process,” he began. “The Winter Classic is a league-run event and there’s two teams that play in it. We would be the host city. And I have some influence, but the league ultimately does the negotiations and deals with the stadium owners. I certainly would love for the game to be played in downtown D.C. I think Nats Park would be a natural place for it, a beautiful new building and the like. But the league will go and talk to lots and lots of venues and venue operators.”

Leonsis went on to explain that the league only pays the Caps what they would normally make from an average game at Verizon Center, as the rest goes to cover game costs like venue rental and league initiatives.

“The other thing I find interesting, someone on Twitter the other day made this sneering comment about how we’re lining our pockets on the Winter Classic. The league will pay the Capitals what we earn on a game at Verizon Center. It’s basically economics. It’s not a boondoggle for the Washington Capitals. They write you a check for what you’d average for your game if it was played at Verizon Center.

“Then they have to pay for the stadium,” he continued. “That’s a lot of rent, there’s a fee that goes there. And there’s a lot of charitable work that goes around it. One of the things that attracted me to want to bring the game here is we would be able to support a lot of youth hockey initiatives and a lot of local charities. That’s one of the great outgrowths of the game, and it’s good for the economy because whoever we play, hopefully, their fanbase, 20 or 30,000 people will want to come to the game and stay at out hotels and eat at our restaurants. And so it’s really good for the city, it’s really good for the league, it’s really good for charities, it’s terrific for our fans.

“We’re asking for some empathy from some of our fans because I’m already getting emails, ‘When am I going to get my tickets? How many tickets are we going to get? Where will I be sitting?’ And we don’t know yet. It’s a long way away, too. But it’s thrilling to be able to say we’re going to host this.”

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