Should NHL Hockey Come Back to Baltimore?
The Washington Capitals fell to the Boston Bruins in the second annual Baltimore Hockey Classic at the Baltimore Arena 3-2. Not only was it a thrilling game, but the Capitals took the defending Eastern Conference Champions to the eighth round of a shootout before they fell.
One of the main concerns heading into this event was the ice given that at last year’s event, warmer temperatures appeared to have melted some of the playing surface. That wasn’t an issue for the players this time around, and the turnout was stellar once again in Charm City, as there were only select tickets remaining at the box office before the puck dropped.
Does a city that has claimed the Baltimore Clippers, Baltimore Skipjacks and Baltimore Bandits as their teams in the past truly deserve another crack at another hockey team, or maybe an NHL team?
I think there is a valid argument for several reasons.
First and foremost, Baltimore is one of the ultimate sports towns in the nation. Yes, the Baltimore Ravens are king, the Baltimore Orioles are trying, but there is room for another team over the winter months. Have you seen the pictures from Mother’s Grille in Federal Hill, Maryland after the Ravens won the Super Bowl? Do you see how well the fan base travels with the football team and how the baseball team is making a comeback?
Baltimore is a blue-collar city that uses sport as an escape from real life. The residents don’t always treat sports like an event — they treat it like it’s their life.
Secondly, Baltimore fans don’t want to root for any Washington sports teams unless they have to. Most Baltimore hockey fans find themselves tuning in to Comcast Sportsnet every time the Capitals are on because that is their “home team” and they have to root for them. As a native of Baltimore, it doesn’t bother me one bit, but it bothers the masses.
Third, what happens if the Ravens are bad and the Orioles miss the playoffs? Now what? The Ravens aren’t always going to make the playoffs, and there can be a dull period in a sports town like Baltimore from January until March. Hockey or basketball could cure that sports hangover, and this city would latch on to a team just to have a rooting interest at least until baseball returns. And if the team is successful, it’s even better.
What it comes down to here is money. The Baltimore Arena needs to either be severely remodeled or demolished and replaced. Parking in Baltimore is a joke already, and the city would need to find a way to house potentially the Ravens, Orioles and another team’s fans all at the same time. Considering they couldn’t play a football game and a baseball game on the same day to open the NFL season, I don’t foresee it happening.
There is hockey tradition in Baltimore, but it seems like the Baltimore Hockey Classic is more of a tease than hope for the future. Maybe if the economy was better. Maybe if the Ravens weren’t already kings. As much as Baltimore loves sports in general, I don’t foresee hockey being a long-term addition to the sports town going forward.