Winter Classic Reportedly Headed to St. Louis in 2017
According to multiple sources reputable to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the St. Louis Blues will likely host next year’s NHL Winter Classic in Busch Stadium. If the rumors are true, this will be the stadium’s first outdoor hockey game. Busch Stadium already hosted a college football game and multiple professional soccer games, including the United States men’s soccer team World Cup qualifier in November, in addition to the 81 Cardinals’ home games each year.
Next year will mark a special year for the NHL and the St. Louis Blues, so it makes sense that Busch Stadium will host the Winter Classic. The NHL will be in its 100th season and the St. Louis Blues will be in its 50th season. In 1967, the St. Louis Blues, alongside the Los Angeles Kings, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, joined the NHL in a league expansion.
Blue Notes: Blues expected to host 2017 Winter Classic, but announcement may not come until early March https://t.co/em4uWFaAUW
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) February 21, 2016
Los Angeles has already been announced as the host of the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend and the Flyers and the Penguins are rumored to play in the NHL Stadium Series, as part of “Hockey Day in America”, so it makes sense that St. Louis will host the Winter Classic. The Blues will likely play the Chicago Blackhawks, their division rivals, on January 2nd, 2017. Usually a New Years’ Day classic, the NHL will likely host the event a day later in order to avoid viewer conflict with the NFL games scheduled that day.
Busch Stadium, which is one of the most iconic stadiums in America, is an attractive candidate to host this marquee event because of the record crowd it will likely draw. The attendance for the United States Men’s World Cup qualifier was 43,433 and the attendance for the United States Women’s Soccer friendly in 2015 was over 35,000, the largest ever for a US Women’s Soccer friendly.
The St. Louis Cardinals also average over 43,000 fans per home game. Given how special this occasion will be and how this game will be a pivotal divisional game between two NHL powerhouses, it is projected that this event will draw over 50,000 fans. Also, with the Rams gone, the NHL Winter Classic coming to Busch Stadium would showcase a strong bond between the Cardinals and Blues that would be another nice gesture for St. Louis residents.
An official announcement from the NHL will likely come soon.