Tuesday, January 01, 2008

One sporting event we'll never host

Unless Al Gore's inconvenient forecast is overly optimistic, in spite of the best efforts of Rob Higgins and Paul Catoe, Tampa Bay will never host the NHL's Winter Classic. If you're not familiar with what that is, it's a regular season game between two National Hockey League teams...played outdoors. Not an exhibition, but an actual game whose results count in the standings. The NHL hopes to make this a regular, if not annual, occurence. Previously, the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers played an outdoor game four years ago. And Michigan and Michigan State played outdoors in 2001. This year's Classic featured the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. The game drew an NHL record crowd of 71,217 who sat through snow and temperatures in the 20s to see the Penguins win 2-1 in a shootout. While debate continues over whether or not Tampa is a hockey town, uh, it gets cold here (although up north friends and relatives will vehemently disagree) but it ain't gonna get...or more importantly, stay...that cold any time soon.

In spite of the poor playing conditions (weather necessitated near-constant ice maintenance), the game was a lot of fun to watch, with all that snow and players like Ryan Miller and his homemade toque getting into the spirit of it:

So I guess we'll just have to accept that our Lightning are forever house-bound when it comes to home games and make do with all the Superbowls, Final Fours, college football bowl games and (at least hypothetically possible) World Series to satisfy our appetites when it comes to high profile sporting events.

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