The Centre Block and Peace Tower of Parliament stand on Parliament Hill (Patrick Doyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The NHL continues to look at Parliament Hill as a potential site for an outdoor game in December 2017, but logistics may make pulling off the event difficult. That doesn’t mean an outdoor game won’t be heading to Ottawa, though.
The NHL has held outdoor games at NCAA, MLB, CFL and NFL stadiums, an MLS pitch will be the site of the Centennial Classic next season and in the pre-Winter Classic era the league has even made an outdoor game work outside of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Even with all those venues checked off, though, the league is still hoping to make one more location work for an upcoming outdoor tilt: Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
According to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, the NHL is still eying up Parliament Hill for a potential December 2017 outdoor game. However, the logistics of putting an outdoor game in a spot that would require tens of thousands of temporary seats to be put in place could mean the scenic open-air game could be put on the back burner.
“It’s complicated,” commissioner Gary Bettman told Garrioch of hosting the game on Parliament Hill. “We’d have to know more. It’s complicated and expensive. We’ve been exploring it and doing some homework on it.”
In February, Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said the NHL had sent officials to the city to assess the possibility of putting a game on the grounds. At the time, Watson suggested roughly 30,000 seats could be placed at Parliament Hill, but no cost for doing so was mentioned. And if that cost were to fall on the league, it could mean ticket prices skyrocket.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Garrioch that if Parliament Hill doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean an outdoor game won’t be coming to Ottawa. There are potential backup plans in place, such as putting the game at TD Place, the home of the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks. TD Place seats 24,000 spectators, and that could be expanded with temporary seating. The Ottawa Citizen’s Andrew Duffy reported in November 2015 that as many as 16,000 additional seats could be added.
“I think Gary has publicly said, ‘We’d like to do it if we could.’ That continues to be our mindset,” Daly told Garrioch. “We’d certainly like to make something work in Ottawa.”
The reason for Ottawa as a proposed site for a December 2017 outdoor game is that it would mark the official 100th anniversary of the NHL and it would be Canada’s 150th anniversary. The dual milestones make for easy promotion of the event, and there’s some symmetry with one of the inaugural games in league history.
On Dec. 19, 1917, the Ottawa Senators played the Montreal Canadiens on the first day of the inaugural NHL season. Montreal won the contest 7-4.