If Washington couldn’t host a Winter Classic on the National Mall, hosting some shinny could be a nice consolation prize.
The thought that a marquee event like the Winter Classic would ever be on the Mall was somewhere between daydreaming and lunacy and the Caps dismissed that idea back in 2012. The reason being is that there would be no way to get 20,000 to 40,000 quality temporary seats placed on the Mall.
But you still could put an ice rink there for a couple of months.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have brought outdoor hockey to the city’s downtown this year after trying it out in 2015 to build excitement for the All-Star Game. The team calls this regulation size rink and its environs Winter Park.
Here’s what the Jackets said back in 2015 about the rink:
It features everything you’d see in a normal hockey rink or hockey arena, except for a roof. Locker rooms, skate rentals, concessions, merchandise tents, a broadcast perch for the FOX Sports Ohio “Blue Jackets Live” broadcast team of Bill Davidge and Brian Giesenschlag…this rink has it all, and it figures to be the centerpiece of a one-of-a-kind experience that the Blue Jackets and several of their local partners want to bring to the city.
I saw a few flyers about the rink when I saw the Caps play in Columbus on Jan. 2 and was both super pumped about a regulation rink with all the proper dasher boards and glass in place for public use and super bummed that it wasn’t going to be open until after we left town.
The Blue Jackets have not only hosted public skating, but team practices (where John Tortorella earned his fractured ribs) and pick-up hockey for the public (!!!).
Yes, it’s $25 but shit, they have heated tents to get changed in. Well worth it, boys. Even if it means having to play at 6 a.m. I was amazed at the accessibility of the rink being across the street from Nationwide Arena in McFerson Commons.
(The Blue Jackets also had another idea that’s on-point: Dad’s Charity Game. Alas, this wasn’t at the outdoor rink and instead at Nationwide Arena where the players’ fathers played against First Responders.)
The Caps have held outdoor practices when they could at the Chevy Chase Club, but that’s not quite accessible given the private club atmosphere. With the Caps Convention gone for a couple of years now, this would be a neat way to do something different in the District and more for the community.
The National Gallery of Art has an outdoor ice skating rink, but it’s strictly for skating. You won’t see a full-on game going on here or Ovi working on his shot here.
The Mall is just as accessible with a Metro stop on the west end, is relatively flat and D.C. is definitely a walking city. If a budget team like the Blue Jackets are able to find sponsors and build a full rink, then the Caps could and have Kettler in charge of managing it.
The only thing is I don’t know how much the National Park Service would charge to rent out that large enough of a space on the Mall.
Cost may not be the issue, really. It’s probably the incredible restrictions for special events on NPS land. The chief one is about the storage of propane cylinders and restrictions of storing fuel on NPS property.
That could cause an issue if the only Zamboni you have uses propane as a fuel source. And then there’s the electrical access.
Marketing and advertising restrictions would mean the Caps would have to be careful how they use it and market it. Strictly promoting a commercial brand (NHL, Capitals) is a no-no. A special event featuring advertising of sponsors? It’s OK.
Oh, and this part won’t help you sign up season-ticket holders:
Soliciting personal information such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, zip codes, etc., or any other such information which may be used for future solicitation or marketing purposes, is strictly prohibited.
OK, I’m not so sure now. I don’t even know how you’d be able to do this for a weekend rink if D.C. ever gets an All-Star Game. There would have to be a huge community or charitable cause, like raising funds for the National Mall, to mask this as in order to work. Exactly the mission of the rink. The community part—not the part about hiding under the guise of a charity.
It would probably be less restrictive to do something like this on the West Potomac Park, which is south of the Lincoln Memorial along the Tidal Basin. This is where you’ll see some major concerts like the Landmark Music Festival which was like a D.C. Lollapalooza with a charitable cause (though how much it ultimately raised, who knows).
Hey, nothing’s going on in RFK during the winter anymore other than using its parking lots to deposit snow. The stadium has way more space than you need, but you’re not staffing the whole stadium for this. You’re closing off access to the upper bowl, and really, any bowl. Just get people access to the locker rooms to change and a way to walk out to the rink.
(Honestly, I know that’s a pipe dream. But maybe offering to do an outdoor World Juniors or NCAA game there would be a way in.)
D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation has ballfields that could work but with them mainly being in neighborhoods and beside schools it doesn’t have the same sort of ambience or access.
All that leaves you with is fields at American and Howard universities. Ehhhhh.
None of those other choices have the allure or accessibility of the National Mall.
Mr. Leonsis, it’s time to Rock the Rink on America’s front porch.