The Ottawa Senators are making plans to host an outdoor National Hockey League game to coincide with celebrations for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, according to those familiar with the tourism industry’s plans for the year’s events.
Mayor Jim Watson is lending his support to the team as they engage in discussions with the NHL about bringing the game to Lansdowne Park sometime during that year, according to Ryan Kennery, a spokesman for the mayor.
The mayor has in the past publicly expressed his desire to bring an outdoor NHL game to the city but has never previously outlined specific plans for bringing the game here.
The idea is to have the Senators face off against the Montreal Canadiens, according to Ottawa Marriott general manager Daniel Laliberté, a member of the committee helping plan the city’s offerings for 2017.
That would replicate the first game played 100 years earlier in December 1917 under the banner of a brand new organization formed a month earlier – the National Hockey League.
Cyril Leeder, the president of the Senators, declined to confirm or deny whether the team has made a formal request of the league. However team spokesman Chris Moore said in an e-mail they would be willing to speak in the future “if the possibility of an outdoor game in Ottawa gains any significant momentum.”
The city and tourism officials are treating as a priority the planning of events for 2017 in the hopes of taking advantage of the buzz surrounding the year’s celebrations.
They are also looking at an expanded version of Winterlude, the annual February festival, and other sporting events.
“There are hopes that Ottawa would also host the Grey Cup that same year,” Mr. Kennery wrote in an e-mail, referring to the game that caps off each Canadian Football League season.
The renovations at Lansdowne Park, which the city approved this year to help bring a CFL team back to the city, are scheduled to be completed by then.
The banner under which an outdoor NHL game would be held in Ottawa is unclear.
The Winter Classic, scheduled annually around New Year’s, usually takes place in the United States. Another game, the Heritage Classic, was played outdoors in Calgary in 2011.