Reports have surfaced that insinuate that the Toronto Maple Leafs will host the 2017 Winter Classic at BMO Field, which is home to Major League Soccer‘s Toronto FC. Although not confirmed, “a source with many years of connection” to the NHL has claimed the Leafs, who will celebrate their 100th season next season, will be awarded the NHL’s premier outdoor game, which will take place on Jan. 2nd, 2017
If confirmed, it will be the second time the Leafs have played in an outdoor game and first time hosting it. They played the Detroit Red Wings in Ann Arbor in 2014, winning 3-2 in a shootout. More than 105,000 fans packed The Big House to watch the game, which makes the 2014 Winter Classic the most well attended game in NHL history.
One issue with hosting at BMO is seating. The NHL feels that the field, which can hold 30,000-34,000 people, does not have enough seating. Howard Berger of Between the Posts reports that portable stands could be used. The stands would be put up in November 2016 for the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup, hosted at BMO, and would stay up for the Winter Classic.
“We’ll have to see,” National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman told the Toronto Sun’s John Kryk in July. “It’s not a no, it’s not a yes. It’s, ‘We’ll have to see.’ We haven’t focused on the outdoor games for the season after this. But if BMO is ready for an outdoor game, and the Leafs want us to take a look at it, we’ll take a look.”
Usually played on Jan. 1st, Berger reported that the NHL would not want to go head to head with the NFL’s schedule, so they’d schedule the Winter Classic on the 2nd. The only other time this happened was in 2012, when the New York Rangers took on the Philadelphia Flyers in Philly.