The NHL’s Heritage Classic for the 2015-2016 season was initially supposed to take place at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, but it looks like that’s not going to happen as planned. The event has been postponed until the 2016-2017 season.
Part of the problem seems to lie with the fact that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team and the National Hockey League were unable to agree on a date that worked for both parties. The NHL was pushing for a game in late December, while the Bombers were angling for a February date.
The scheduling conflict arrived with the Bombers not wanting a game played close to the Grey Cup and the NHL not wanting a game played too close to the All-Star events and other yet-to-be-revealed outdoor games.
What about picking a date in January? That was – wait for it – “too cold” for the Jets.
So now the NHL will go ahead with announcing its slate of outdoor events for the 2015-2016 season without Winnipeg on the docket. Initially, the Manitoba event was three years in the making with the organization selecting the 2015-2016 season as optimal. The hockey team initially had the cooperation of the Blue Bombers, too, and had worked together on other events.
But then the CFL team began to worry that the Heritage Classic would overshadow the biggest weekend in Canadian football and that people would choose hockey over the Blue Bombers, which led to scheduling concerns. The football team would receive some compensation from the NHL (a rental fee for Investors Group Field), but that would be nothing in comparison to potential Grey Cup events.
Winnipeg’s hosting of the 2015 Grey Cup is not an assured sell-out opportunity, especially given how recent events have done. The CFL recently saw difficulty moving units in Vancouver, with discount tickets flooding the market. Winnipeg could see the same problem. Or not.
The point is that the collision of football and hockey has led to this. The Heritage Classic will not take place in Winnipeg for the 2015-2016 season. There are efforts to put things in place for the 2016-2017 season. Let’s hope that goes through because Jets fans can bring an awful lot to an outdoor party.