Winter Classic 2015: Capitals owner thinks 'Nats Park would be a natural place' for event

Rob Carr

All that's known about the 2015 Winter Classic is that the Washington Capitals will host the event. If the decision was up to Ted Leonsis, he would hold the event at Nationals Park.

The Washington Capitals are set to host the 2015 Winter Classic, but the venue of the event is still unknown. If it's up to owner Ted Leonsis, the Capitals will skate outdoors at Nationals Park.

Leonsis participated in an interview with WTOP where listeners were able to tweet in questions for the owner. When asked about the Winter Classic, Leonsis explained that the decision on a venue was not up to him, via The Washington Post:

"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."

The Winter Classic is a massive spectacle that expands the attendance capacity of a game held in an arena. However, despite the increased capacity, teams do not receive an increased take from the gate, according to Leonsis:

"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."

With the expansion of the outdoor schedule (six games in 2013-14 alone), the scope of the events seems to have taken a micro-approach, where the league is focusing on making it an event for the regional markets involved rather than the entirety of the NHL's fan base.

Leonsis states that he was interested in hosting the event because he was hoping to grow the game and help infuse some revenue into the local economy:

"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."

The Capitals will host the event on Jan. 1, 2015.

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