The city of Boston has successfully hosted an NHL Winter Classic Game on New Year’s Day in the past. Back in 2010, Fenway Park housed the Boston Bruins for the January 1 outdoor game against the Philadelphia Flyers, in which the game was a sell-out featuring over 38,000 fans in the home of the Boston Red Sox. The Bruins emerged victorious with a thrilling 2-1 overtime win, while the entire city has braced for another opportunity to host the prestigious game again ever since. It appears likely to get the chance in 2016, although the venue may not be Fenway Park. When the Bruins host the 2016 NHL Winter Classic on January 1, 2016, the game seems destined to be played in front of a crowd almost twice as large. That can only mean that Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts, would host the Bruins and, hopefully, their most heated rivals in the Montreal Canadiens.
No city has ever hosted the NHL Winter Classic on multiple occasions. The city of Chicago hosted the Winter Classic in 2009 at Wrigley Field and a Stadium Series game at Soldier Field in 2014, but Chicago has not hosted more than one Winter Classic.
Technically, Boston would not either, as Foxboro is not in Boston. It is a city in its own right. It is actually closer to Providence, Rhode Island than it is to Boston, but I guess we are splitting hairs.
The last NHL Winter Classic played in an NFL stadium was back in 2011, when the Pittsburgh Steelers played host to the Washington Capitals in Heinz Field. That game was played in front of a similar number of fans that would witness the game in Gillette Stadium. Even if the 2016 contest is played at Gillette, the attendance will pale in comparison to what was announced at last year’s game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs that was played in Ann Arbor at Michigan Stadium, home of the Wolverines football. That game had roughly 105,000 fans in attendance.
Gillette Stadium would be a great venue for the Bruins to play the 2016 NHL Winter Classic. The Canadiens would make for the ideal opponent. A few things still need to hammered out, but Scott Burnside of ESPN.com says that things are moving in the right direction.
“The Patriots are believed to be enthusiastic about working with the NHL and the Bruins,” Burnside writes. “Plus there is also the option to make use of Fenway Park, as the Boston Red Sox have periodically since 2010 hosted their own outdoor hockey/skating events at the venerable ballpark. A situation similar to last year where events were split between downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor is easy to imagine in Boston.”