NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, ‘Nothing Short Of A Phenomenon,’ Hitting New York
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 01:35PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Bridgestone, NHL, NHL, New York, Winter Classic, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff

May 10, 2017: New York has hosted an open-air Super Bowl in February, so why not an outdoor hockey game in January?

The NHL has scheduled the next game in its iconic Winter Classic series for Citi Field, home of MLB’s New York Mets.

The 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic next season will see the hometown Rangers host the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 1.

The New Year's Day game will be broadcast live on NBC, Sportsnet and TVA Sports (1 PM ET).

According to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, "This will be the 23rd outdoor game (during the regular season, also including Centennial, Heritage and Stadium Series games), 1.2 million fans have attended these games. It’s nothing short of a phenomenon.

"These games capture everybody’s attention. It’s emotional. It’s our fans getting together in larger numbers than usual. It conjures up emotional memories for our players about learning how to skate (outside) as youngsters. it takes the game back to its roots," said Bettman.

The league said that additional details on the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, including ticket information and events surrounding the game, would be unveiled in the coming months.

Updates also will be available at NHL.com/WinterClassic.

The game marks the ten-year anniversary of the first NHL Winter Classic, which first was played in Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo (2008).

Bridgestone, the official tire for the NHL and NHLPA, returns as title sponsor for a ninth consecutive year.  The initial game was sponsored by PepsiCo’s AMP Energy.

According to the NHL, five of the six most-watched NHL regular-season games in the U.S. since 1975 are Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic games.

The company recently extended its partnership with the league through 2021.

"The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic continues to be the league's marquee outdoor game each season, as well as a centerpiece in our own strategic, season-long sports activation," Phil Pacsi, vp-sports/events marketing and training for Bridgestone Americas, said in a statement.

"Throughout our longstanding partnership, this special game has allowed Bridgestone to strengthen its relationship with the passionate, performance-minded hockey fans in North America and around the world, and it's a privilege to help celebrate its 10th anniversary."

Unfortunately for the Rangers, the news came on the same day they were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Ottawa Senators.

The 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be the sixth NHL Winter Classic to be held in a baseball stadium: Wrigley Field in Chicago (2009), Fenway Park in Boston (2010), Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (2012), Nationals Park in Washington (2015) and Busch Stadium in St. Louis (2017).

Yankee Stadium hosted two outdoor Stadium Series games in 2014, with the Rangers facing the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders, respectively.

Four Winter Classics have been held in football venues: Ralph Wilson Stadium Buffalo (2008), Heinz Field Pittsburgh (2011), Michigan University Stadium (2024, which set a record with 105,491 in attendance) and Gillette Stadium Foxborough MA (2016).

"The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic continues to be the league's marquee outdoor game and a centerpiece in our own strategic sports activation."

NHL Network and NHL.com will provide extensive coverage live from the event leading up to and after the game. NHL Social will have exclusive coverage on all social platforms, including NHL hashtag #WinterClassic.

Citi Field holds about 45,000 people including standing room.

"We are thrilled and excited to host the 2018 NHL Winter Classic between the Rangers and Sabres and thank commissioner Bettman for his support in choosing Citi Field," Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said in a statement.

"We look forward to providing the hockey fans in our city and state a unique setting to experience this marquee match-up and adding it to the list of unique events we have been able to bring to the ballpark."

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