I'll say it again: I want a Queen City Winter Classic
(Updating original post from January, 2017)
I'm not a diehard hockey fan. But I certainly appreciate the sport. There are few things better than watching hockey in person. I've attended several Blue Jackets games in Columbus over the years. While working in Chicago, I got to see the Blackhawks play at old Chicago Stadium numerous times, including when Wayne Gretzky came to town with the LA Kings. It was incredible.
Wednesday, I caught some of the NHL's 12th Winter Classic. It's an annual regular season outdoor hockey game played around New Year's Day, generally in a football or baseball stadium. This year's edition featured the Dallas Stars beating the Nashville Predators 4-2 in the Cotton Bowl. Previous games have been played at such venues as Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium, Nationals Park, Busch Stadium and Gillette Stadium. The NHL has announced the 2021 Winter Classic will take place at Target Field in Minneapolis and feature the Minnesota Wild.
I continue to believe Cincinnati could pull off its own version of the NHL's Winter Classic. I'll call it the Queen City Classic.
Queen City Classic venue
Imagine playing hockey at GABP or PBS in January!
I'd start by inviting the Columbus Blue Jackets to spread the NHL word throughout Southern Ohio. What better way to connect the Columbus NHL franchise to a pro sports town just 87 miles away? It's probably 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.
I'm wide open for suggestions for the rest of our field of teams. We could start small, with one game. Or, we could go bigger with a double or triple header. How about a Friday night game to kickoff the weekend under the lights? Followed by a Saturday night showcase game and a Sunday afternoon wrap-up game. We could include games at Heritage Bank Arena. What about Nippert Stadium? Man, if we only still had the Cincinnati Gardens to also use.
Why stop with the NHL? How about inviting two from Ohio State, Bowling Green and Miami to square off in a game?
The Cincinnati Cyclones could host the Indy Fuel. Want to make the event bigger? Why not invite club hockey programs at UC, XU, UK and UD?
We could expand to showcase 2-4 of the top high school hockey programs in the area?
How about women's college programs squaring off?
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, at Heritage Bank Arena, PBS and GABP. 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 we create rinks for skating at The Banks? Put a couple of rinks on Freedom Way between The Holy Grail and Yard House.
Reunion Weekend: Invite former Cincinnati Stingers ('75-'79), Swords ('71-'74), Tigers ('81-'82), Mighty Ducks ('97-'05) and Cyclones ('90-present) to town for festivities. Any Mohawks ('49-52) still around?
Voices present/past exhibit: Fans would get a chance to meet and do Q/A with Cincinnati hockey voices through the years, including Everett Fitzhough, 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? We will discuss on Sports Talk. We are talking about it on my Facebook page HERE.