The Washington Times - January 3, 2012, 10:15AM

The Washington Capitals will host a Winter Classic, and it will be soon. But it won’t happen in the early days of 2013.

That’s not much of a surprise, as Detroit is considered the favorite for next year’s event. But on Tuesday owner Ted Leonsis confirmed that the Winter Classic won’t be in the D.C. area next season.

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“There has NOT been any communication to us on a formal basis as to a Winter Classic coming to DC in a specific year. I have been told that the Winter Classic will NOT be coming to DC next year though,” Leonsis wrote on his blog. “I have also been assured that because of the size of our fan base – and the beauty of our city – that a Winter Classic would come to Washington DC; at some point in the future. And that is good enough for me.”

According to Leonsis and general manager George McPhee, the NHL promised the Caps would get the event as part of their participating in the 2011 game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

But all along it has not seemed likely that 2013 would be the year. Comerica Park in Detroit, with the Red Wings against someone, appears to be the front-runner.

Some reports have indicated that the NHL’s promise was a Winter Classic in 2013 or 2014. Chief operating officer John Collins mentioned Detroit and New York as future sites in a meeting with reporters over the weekend. Yankee Stadium’s contract to host the Pinstripe Bowl is believed to be up after a couple more years, which would put New York City in line to get the game, possibly in 2015 after Washington.

When the Winter Classic does come to Washington, it won’t be on the National Mall, Leonsis wrote.

“It is NOT feasible; there aren’t enough common areas to build out seats – and the expense involved to create locker rooms; icestands and studios are prohibitive,” Leonsis wrote.

Nationals Park is the favorite to be the site of the as-yet-unscheduled D.C. Winter Classic. FedEx Field and RFK Stadium are other possibilities.