On Jan. 1, I’m going to be attending my third Winter Classic game but it’s all but certain where the game will be held.
The Washington Capitals haven’t formally announced where the game will be held at, but come on. It’s going to be at Nationals Park. Folks have pointed to the ownership relationship, with Mark Lerner being the key link, and how people hate FedEx Field, Dan Snyder and the name of the football team there plus RFK Stadium needs some TLC.
The answer lies in the season and partial ticket plans being offered by the Caps. The Caps are only allotting one Winter Classic ticket purchase per regular season ticket plan purchase. Season ticket holders get first crack and it goes down from there. This is only being done because of the 41,888-seat capacity at Nationals Park. The Caps in 2008 were reported to have around 12,000 season ticket equivalents (counts two half plans as one). There is a waiting list on season tickets now, so the number is probably around there. If everyone bought two tickets, that would be 24,000 seats and who knows how many partial plan holders there are buying 12- or 6-game packs. That would leave very little left for corporate sponsors, tickets for players’ families, tickets offered to the Blackhawks base and general sales.
Now, the same argument can be applied to RFK Stadium because it only holds 45,000. I will say this about the 54-year-old stadium: it has charm despite its age. It seems to be that RFK was at least in a close second, but Nats park is much younger.
RFK also has a 360-degree upper deck, where the views will be spectacular. The NHL has charged more for upper deck seats because of the views since the lower bowls tend to have obstructions. Nats Park’s upper deck also has a nice view of D.C., while the lower bowl has a glorious view of a parking garage.
I much rather it be at RFK for the nostalgia, plus the giant parking lot and neighboring DC Armory provides good opportunity to stage activities. Nats Park has a more vibrant neighborhood, but there’s not really anywhere to stage events save for a small parking lot and blocking off the streets. Maybe the Mall plays into this with potential setting up events there—a 20-minute Metro ride away in a heavily walked area.
When the Caps visited Heinz Field for the 2011 Winter Classic, the team, even though they were visitors, were allowed two tickets per one regular season plan ticket purchase. I was one of those lucky ones who not only got to purchase two through my plan but also got into the ticket lottery and grabbed another two tickets that I sold to a friend so he could take his father.
Heinz Field holds 65,000 people, thus the room to wiggle to offer more tickets.
If we’re lucky, maybe Ticketmaster will end the drama like it did for the Stadium Series in San Francisco, as Puck Daddy pointed out.
Even though I’m living in Sarasota, Fla., I’ve bought a partial plan to get a chance to buy a ticket. I’m selling my six tickets to friends/family back up in Maryland to pay off the Winter Classic ticket. But we all know that money will be funneled right back paying for Winter Classic jerseys and merchandise.