The 2022 Winter Classic between the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild was one of the best. However, the main takeaway from this game won’t be the offensive explosion for the St. Louis Blues or Jordan Kyrou’s coming-out party. This year’s installment of the NHL’s signature regular-season game will be remembered for its below-zero temperatures, frozen beards, and all.
One day later sports fans saw another outdoor sports event take place in below-freezing temperatures. This was not a hockey game, but the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. While it was new seeing a crowd at an NHL game brave the nearly -10 degree temperatures, it’s commonplace in Green Bay.
There are few sports arenas almost as legendary of the game itself. The NHL has already held outdoor games at a few of them, such as Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field. One place that seems tailor-made for an outdoor NHL game is the Green Bay Packer’s home of Lambeau Field. Would hockey ever go outdoors to Wisconsin?
Lambeau Field would be the perfect setting for an outdoor hockey game like the NHL Winter Classic. Too bad there’s not an NHL team in the immediate area.
First off, Wisconsin doesn’t have an NHL team, although it does have a hockey history. Players such as Phil and Amanda Kessel come from the cheese head state and Milwaukee is home to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. It wouldn’t be the first time the NHL has had an outdoor game in a locale without an NHL team. The NHL has had previous Stadium Series and Winter Classic games at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, The Air Force Academy in Colorado, and on the campus of Notre Dame. Remember when the NHL had a preseason game outdoors in Las Vegas long before the Vegas Golden Knights were a twinkle in Bill Foley’s eye?
Apparently, the Minnesota Wild are Wisconsin’s favorite NHL team. That’s a minor surprise considering the football team that shares their city is one of Green Bay’s most hated opponents. Green Bay is also a short three-hour drive from Chicago. A matchup between the Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks would be a crowd-pleaser at the “Frozen Tundra”. Then again, do we really want to see the Blackhawks get another outdoor game?
Aside from the lack of a local NHL team, another drawback to a Lambeau Winter Classic might be capacity. Over 38,000 people came out to see the 2022 Winter Classic. Lambeau’s capacity is more than twice that at around 81,000 seats (the attendance record is a few thousand less). NHL statistics have the average attendance for their outdoor games to be over 54,000. Sure there’s no problem filling Lambeau for a football game, but this is a hockey game that would feature a team without the same fan market as the Green Bay Packers faithful.
Everything about Lambeau Field screams Winter Classic. If outdoor NHL hockey could survive in Minnesota, they can make it work in Green Bay. It’s unlikely the Minnesota Wild will be in another Winter Classic anytime soon, but maybe someday.