With the Winter Classic nearly upon us there's been quite a bit of speculation on which site will follow Fenway Park. I think that the next game will be played at Yankee Stadium (Rangers-Devils). It's a no-brainer (facility, population center, natural rivalry), and I think that a Canadian site will follow if the NHL does't go for a separate Hockey Day in Canada outdoor game.
Colorado is one of the US sites frequently mentioned as having Winter Classic potential, along with Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. If it comes to Colorado, where would it be played? There's two obvious choices, Coors Field and Mile High Stadium where you can get a big on-site crowd, but if you were trying to create a unique game experience, neither is all that special.
A USA Today writer (Kevin Allen, I think) on NHL Network's "NHL LIve" suggested Vail, and I think it was AD at the Denver Post who suggested Grand Lake. I like both ideas as they would bring the mountains (and altitude) into the picture. But there are problems. Neither would have much of a seating area, so they would magnify the "made for TV" nature of the event. Grand Lake is not that easy to get to, even in the summer, and it probably doesn't have enough lodging to support a big event crowd. Vail works better; it has the lodging and name recognition, but I wonder if they could create a location that would support NHL play. As far as I know, there's no lake or reservoir in the Vail valley, although Google Maps shows a reservoir in Avon.
Relying on natural ice anywhere in the Denver area is insane. It could easily be 70 and sunny or -10 and snowing on New Years Day around here. Evergreen Lake in the foothills to the west has outdoor potential; I used to skate there as a kid. I haven't been there in years, and I strongly suspect facilities would need to be built to handle the load.
Any ideas from MHH?
Does anyone doubt that the opponent should be the Red Wings?