Last week, after some Twitter discussion, @tbridge wrote a We Love DC post suggesting that a temporary ice rink be installed on the field at Nationals Park during the winter. The idea was prompted by a Times article about the Cleveland Indians trying that out this winter at Progressive Field nee Jacobs Field. For a few weeks Snow Days offers a 1/4 mile skating track and snow tubing hill. It looks like a great idea that would be a lot of fun but could it work in DC? There are several issues to consider:
The Indians are expecting to take a loss on Snow Days, something I don’t think the Washington Nationals would be inclined to do.
Is $25, what the Indians are charging, too expensive, even in DC? To me, that isn’t a trivial amount of money for what would likely be 2 hours of entertainment. NOTE: @tbridge notes that unlimited skating is $10 which is a much better deal. The snowtubing is extra.
According to JDLand, the Near Southeast Redevelopment site, the District has 18 days that it can it use Nationals Park for non-baseball events. I do not know how many days the Nats could use it for non-baseball events. I think in order to make this happen, the lease would have to be amended and that is something that they may not want to do. There are still hard feelings about the lease negotiations in 2004 and 2006 between the District and MLB. The Lerners, owners of the Nats, and the council have had their problems as well. There may be reluctance by those two parties to work together, especially if the revenue potential is uncertain.
How much damage would having a ice rink/track and snowtubing slide do to the field?
It will be very interesting to see how this goes in Cleveland.
There is another potential icy offseason event that Nationals Park may host too — the NHL Winter Classic. When it was announced that the Washington Capitals would be traveling to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins on New Year’s Day 2011, it was also announced that the Caps would get to host a Winter Classic. The year has not yet been determined, nor has the site. Potential venues include Nationals Park, but also RFK Stadium, FedEx Field and even Baltimore. I have already stated my preference for the Caps Winter Classic being at Nationals Park and I have to think that Mark Lerner, who is also a minority owner of the Caps in addition to the Nats, should have some clout in making it happen. Playing the game in the shadow of the Capitol dome in the most modern facility makes the most sense. However, because we are talking about the NHL, I can’t trust them to do the right thing. Putting the Caps hosted Winter Classic in Baltimore would be a big middle finger/kick to the groin to DC and WASHINGTON Capitals fans.
As for the upcoming Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, rain, the worst possible situation is expected (The Early Lead, The Post) and may cause the game to be delayed or postponed. I’d actually find a delay to Saturday night to be preferable, since I would no longer be competing with the Outback Bowl which features my Penn State Nittany Lions against the Florida Gators at 1 p.m.