Could the Winter Classic be coming to Philadelphia?
Yes. At some point, there will be an outdoor hockey game in Philadelphia. Big market team, rabid fanbase, hockey town, Northeast market. It's only a matter of when there will be a Winter Classic in Philadelphia. Surely, though, since the Flyers played in the game just a year ago, it'll be a while before we see our team in another one. Right?
Contributor Pierre LeBrun said Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia - home of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles - is the front-runner. Colorado and Minnesota are other interested cities.
"The NHL prefers the NFL stadium model compared to the baseball stadium," LeBrun said.
You'd think that the NHL would want to take the game out West, considering that all but two of the seven teams that have played in the game are from the East, but that's not so certain. Believe it or not, despite the rabid success of the Winter Classic over the last four years, it has yet to cement itself as a tradition that will withstand the test of time.
During the first intermission of Saturday's 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, CBC's panel talked about the new TV deal that will be coming for the NHL and how, if ESPN gets it, they may not want to have a New Year's Day NHL game taking eyes away from their college football bowl games.
Then again, the NHL has a ton of leverage in the negotiations for another TV deal, and since the Winter Classic is such a huge money maker for the League, they might demand that any network keep it as part of a new TV deal.
But if it's true that the fate of the Winter Classic is not yet certain, the NHL might be afraid to see the it go West solely because they know the ratings would be lower than a game between two big Eastern Conference teams -- like the Flyers and say, the Rangers. If the event isn't cemented in as a yearly tradition just yet, and the League wants it to be, they're going to keep using the big market teams like the Flyers to build the product.
Long story short: don't be shocked if there's a Winter Classic in Philly sooner rather than later.