Capitals await their chance to host Winter Classic

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From the NHL’s perspective, the idea of the Winter Classic is “the spectacle of something in a place that it’s not supposed to happen,” according to Cara Schneider of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp.

“In a time where everything’s so conventional, there’s something great about hearty people strapping on hats and gloves and braving the cold,” she said.

Washington on New Year’s Day - which would be a Wednesday in 2014 and a Thursday in 2015 - might not be that cold. Last year’s game in Pittsburgh had to be moved back to 8 p.m. because of rain, and this year’s was expected to feature temperatures around 40 degrees with wind.

It could be 60 degrees here that time of year, but given the NHL’s ability to make and maintain ice at those temperatures, a moderate-weather game would not disqualify the D.C. area.

“Temperature-wise and weather-wise, the worst thing that could’ve happened happened in Pittsburgh and we got through it,” McPhee said.

Logistics like the condition of the ice and uncontrollable elements such as the weather can’t be planned, but a Winter Classic in Washington would be a profitable endeavor. The event has meant anywhere from $22 million to $36 million in local economic impact (the latter in Boston), and it would pour at least $20 million in locally, according to sports economy analyst Lisa Delpy Neirotti of George Washington University.

She said a game at Nationals Park against a team farther away (such as the New Jersey Devils) could produce more money thanks to visitors spending nights in hotels and eating at downtown restaurants. Neirotti said a Winter Classic here could have fringe benefits that go beyond the season of the game.

“We’re not a big New Year’s city. I would suggest if we do get it that the city does something special,” she said. “Maybe do fireworks on that New Year’s Eve to make it a special event and attract more people to come in.”

There’s also the free advertising that comes with intense media coverage and TV exposure on NBC, NBC Sports Network and NHL Network. Because of all that, just about every team has expressed interest in hosting a Winter Classic.

“I think it would be great for any market,” Halpern said. “But I definitely think the D.C. market is as deserving as any other market to host it.”

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