I'll say it again: I want a Queen City Winter Classic
Saturday night, the NHL's Stadium Series was held outdoors at Carter-Finley Stadium, home to North Carolina State’s college football team. A sellout crowd of 56,961 fans watched the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals 4-1. The game was played across the street from Carolina’s home ice at PNC Arena.
Previous Stadium Series/Winter Classic games have been played outdoors at such venues as Wrigley Field, The Cotton Bowl, Fenway Park, Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium, Nationals Park, Busch Stadium, Target Field and Gillette Stadium.
I continue to believe Cincinnati could pull off its own version of the Winter Classic. I'll call it the Queen City Classic. Imagine playing hockey at GABP, Paycor, Nippert and TQL in January/February!
I'd start by going big and inviting the Columbus Blue Jackets. What better way to connect the Columbus NHL franchise to a pro sports town just 87 miles away? Granted, it's a stretch to get two NHL teams to move a home game into a non-NHL city, but I'd sure take a swing at it. Columbus would likely try to execute the concept at Ohio Stadium.
But we don't need NHL teams to try it. How about inviting Ohio college teams, Ohio State, Bowling Green, Miami and others to square off in games?
The Cincinnati Cyclones could host the Indy Fuel in a matchup.
Why not invite club hockey programs at UC, XU, UD, and others, even UK?
We could expand to showcase the top high school hockey programs in the area.
How about women's college programs squaring off?
We could kickoff the weekend under the lights on a Friday night and follow-up with Saturday afternoon/night showcase games and a Sunday afternoon wrap-up game.
Other weekend activities
Fan Fest: A legends meet and greet with photos, autographs and Q/A with Cincinnati hockey greats of the past: Former Stingers, Barry Melrose, Mark Messier, Mike Gartner and Robbie Ftorek. Former Cyclones Chuck Weber, Don Biggs, Paul Lawless, Dennis Desrosiers. Former Mighty Ducks Mike Babcock, Jean-Sébastien Giguère, Chris Kunitz and Matt Cullen.
Activities: Various activities would take place on Fountain Square, around The Banks and in OTR. Fans could skate on Fountain Square, attend Hockey 101 clinics and take part in various interactive activities on the plaza level between GABP and Heritage Bank. How about creating rinks for skating at The Banks? Put a couple of ice rinks on Freedom Way between The Holy Grail and Yard House.
Reunion Weekend: Invite former Cincinnati Mohawks ('49-52), Stingers ('75-'79), Swords ('71-'74), Tigers ('81-'82), Mighty Ducks ('97-'05), Cyclones ('90-present) to town for festivities.
Voices present/past exhibit: Fans would get a chance to meet and do Q/A with Cincinnati hockey voices through the years, including Andrew Mossbrooks, Everett Fitzhugh, Nick Brunker, Greg Waddell, Don Helbig, John Hamel, Andy MacWilliams, Terry Ficorelli, Wildman Walker and other hockey historians.
Charity game: Several years ago Don Helbig, hockey historian and former voice of the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, suggested an alumni game. Former Swords, Stingers, Tigers, Cyclones and Ducks would team up for a game with proceeds going to local charities.
What do you think? Are you with me?
(Updating original post from January, 2017)