Report: Toronto Maple Leafs to Host 2017 Winter Classic at BMO Field


According to a report, the Toronto Maple Leafs could be celebrating their 100th anniversary by hosting one of the league’s marquee games.

Although nothing is confirmed yet, rumours have started to come out about what the Toronto Maple Leafs might have in store for their centennial season next year.

With rumours of a new logo and uniforms, the Maple Leafs look to be going all out for their 100th season. It sounds like the Leafs may also host the 2017 Winter Classic.

According to a report from Howard Berger, the game would be played on January 2, 2017, at Toronto’s BMO Field, the current home of Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC and the future home of the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts.

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One perceived issue with BMO Field was the lack of seating, but a recent renovation upped seating capacity from 20,000 to between 30,000 and 34,000. The 2016 Grey Cup will also be held at BMO Field in November of 2016, and an additional 10,000 seats will be temporarily added for the game. The temporary structure would remain up for the Winter Classic, according to Berger. With the additional seats, it would give approximately 41,000 to 44,000 fans the chance to see the Maple Leafs and Rangers square off on the shores of Lake Ontario.

When speaking with the Toronto Sun’s John Kryk back in July, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t confirm or deny the game, but simply said the NHL would take a look.

“We’ll have to see,” said Bettman. “It’s not a no, it’s not a yes. It’s, ‘we’ll have to see.’ We haven’t focused on the outdoor games for the season after this. But if BMO is ready for an outdoor game, and the Leafs want us to take a look at it, we’ll take a look.”

Although Bettman was probably trying to be objective, let’s be real, of course the Maple Leafs would want the NHL to take a look! It’s their centennial year and they’ve made it clear since Brian Burke was the general manager in 2009 that they want to host everything next season.

Jan 1, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the game-winning shootout goal against the Detroit Red Wings during the 2014 Winter Classic hockey game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

“We have told the NHL that we’d like to host an Entry Draft, an outdoor game and an All-Star Game,” said Burke. “We think Toronto is a pretty important market, and we think we could do a good job with those things and we’d like to host them.”

Aside from the Winter Classic, think about the other events the temporary ice rink could hold. An alumni game between the Maple Leaf and Rangers is a given. But since this is Toronto, the self-proclaimed mecca of hockey, why not host a slew of games at BMO Field.

How about the Toronto Marlies play an outdoor game, and as we saw during the 2014 Winter Classic, how about another OHL double-header featuring four nearby teams like the Mississauga Steelheads, Kitchener Rangers, London Knights and Oshawa Generals.

Perhaps host an ECHL game between the Orlando Solar Bears and Brampton Beast too. But don’t stop there. After all, this is Toronto and minor league/grassroots hockey is an integral part of the Greater Toronto Area. Why not host a pair of GTHL or OJHL games? Heck, host a York versus University of Toronto game too while you’re at it.

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It might sound like overkill a bit, but again, this is Toronto where everything hockey related is borderline overkill. So why not use our hockey enthusiasm to host an exciting event that would not only be memorable for the Leafs and their fan base, but also for tons of other hockey players and their families.