With the Capitals now officially named the hosts of the 2015 NHL Winter Classic all that’s left is to determine where and whom they will play. That process will likely take several months, but at Saturday’s Capitals convention fans shared their opinions on where they want to see the outdoor showcase played.
“Nats Park, hands down,” said Matt Bradbury, 42, of Germantown, Md. “I think the area down by the park is revived, new and fun. It’s much better than RFK, which is outdated and old. And FedEx you have to deal with Dan Snyder, traffic and what have you.”
Romano Mascetti III, 52, from Odenton, Md., also believes Nationals Park would be the best place to hold the Classic.
“I think it makes sense for it to be here, I’ve been around since 1974 when they opened up the old USAir Arena and I think it makes sense to have it in the city,” Mascetti said. “I don’t like FedEx, I think it’s too cold. It’s a bigger stadium, but big deal. RFK’s just too old. I think there has to be some identification with the Capitals being from Washington, D.C.”
Nationals Park is believed to be the early front runner based on its location in the District, which would allow the NHL to keep all of its coordinating events and fan areas more centrally located, and that it is the newest facility available. Not to mention Nationals owner Mark Lerner is a minority partner in Ted Leonsis’s Monumental Sports and Entertainment.
But not everyone discounted 52-year-old RFK Stadium as an option. The only other possibility in Washington itself, RFK Stadium would offer plenty of D.C. sports nostalgia but it is in less-than-perfect condition.
“For Washington tradition, RFK would be a good place to have it. It’s going to be available and it’s a good house,” said Bob Ternes, 66, who is a season ticket holder from Waynesboro, Pa. “I like RFK the most but any of the venues would work. I think Camden Yards is the most beautiful ballpark and would be a great place to have it, I’d definitely go if I was there. Those would be my top two choices.”
While there’s little question that Camden Yards would provide the most picturesque setting, fans had strong opinions about keeping the game in Washington as opposed to playing it in Charm City.
“I’m a Baltimore fan and I don’t even want it in Baltimore,” said Melissa Kreiner, 22, from Odenton, Md. “I know it’s another field but it just doesn’t make sense. It needs to be in Washington.”
Season ticket holders Todd and Sarah Murphy live in Bowleys Quarters, Md., and make the more than 50-mile trek to Verizon Center for every home game. But although they live much closer to Baltimore, they would like to see the game in the nation’s capital.
“We live in Baltimore but they’re the Washington Capitals. So I’d say RFK,” Todd Murphy said. “It’s going to be the middle of the NFL season and other people that have been to the Winter Classic say they’re better at football stadiums because the outfield in baseball stadiums is too big. I think RFK, by default, would work best.”