Every fan got what they wanted with the 2017 NHL Winter Classic in St. Louis. The game itself was back-and-forth, and despite wet-ice conditions early, the game picked up in intensity as it wore on. That's not what fans will remember years from now though, it's the 'Winter Classic experience' that will stick with them for eons to come.
A Classy winter event
The city of St. Louis, the Cardinals, the Blues and the NHL really created an unreal atmosphere for fans of both teams as they ramped up to Monday's afternoon's grudge match. Year after year, people hear about the amazing fan experience at the NHL Winter Classic. Finally, after eight Classics in other cities, the Gateway to the West got its shot at the big dance.
The atmosphere was truly electric from the sold-out Alumni game on New Year's Eve, to the actual Winter Classic on Jan. 2, and there wasn't a disappointed fan in sight as the Blues' were able to beat the Hawks in the 2017 NHL Winter Classic.
St. Louis' famous Ballpark Village was transformed into the Blues' fan hub as the NHL Winter Classic 'Fan Fest' drew fans from all over. From shooting areas, to photo ops, to live concerts with stars like St. Louis' own Nelly, the Winter Classic was made for fans of all ages and backgrounds.
The surrounding businesses saw great booms from those excited for the event, and the chilly rain couldn't keep away tailgating fans who donned ponchos while prepping for the big game with other classic games like washers and bags. The fans created a palpable aura that surrounded the event, and it made for such a memorable experience.
Fan photos: Celebrating the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium
What made the 2017 NHL Winter Classic so great?
The fact that St. Louis has waited nine long years to get an outdoor event certainly helped fans go the extra mile throughout the event, and the heart of St. Louis and Chicago fans alike made it so special. Every fan was extremely excited to finally watch hockey at the iconic Busch Stadium, and the events surrounding the Classic kept smiles on all fans' faces throughout the New Year holiday.
The 'Fan Fest' allowed many hockey fans to experience the game in ways they never have before, and despite long lines, fans spirits were soaring. Fans from all over were able to enjoy the Classic in many differnet ways; here are a few fans shared with us:
"The Overall fan experience was fantastic. We expected nothing less from St. Louis though. Everything about the Blues is designed for the fans and that's what we love most." - Jeremy Richardson, a Blues fan who came all the way from Georgia for the event.
"I loved the Fan-Fest area! The whole experience was awesome. The Alumni Game and today's Winter Classic were so much fun, especially outside at Busch."- Ryan Deemer, 12-year-old Blues fan.
"This was truly a once in a lifetime experience. No other time would I have met Jeremy Roenick, or shook both Bobby and Brett Hull's hands. My favorite part was experiencing a little bit of what the players got to as I held the flag on the ice during the National Anthem." - Dan Odenwald, a local firefighter who helped hold the flag to open the game.
Ballpark Village definitely adds to the allure of events at Busch Stadium, and Blues fans turned it into a madhouse after the team defeated the Hawks 4-1 at the 2017 NHL Winter Classic. It was an explosion of "Let's Go Blues" chants, and a variety of fan cheers as the post-game wrapped up from St. Louis' premiere downtown venue.
Fans were certainly taken care of all weekend by amazing music, great food, drinks and the aforementioned atmosphere that surrounded the entire event. NHL commentators also sat up and took notice of the electric atmosphere that surrounded the city. The notorious tough-guy Mike Milbury even commented that this was one of the most memorable Winter Classics of all-time.
"The game was great, the weather was good, the music was awesome, and the fans and city were amazing."- Mike Milbury, NBC Sports.
So what made the 2017 NHL Winter Classic so great? Simple. The amazing people of St. Louis, and the event staff from the city, Cardinals, Blues and NHL. The event went off without a hitch despite less than ideal conditions outside (47 degrees and raining), which no one seemed to notice much. The event crews were able to create a winter wonderland atmosphere that made the game feel like a Game-7 contest, and the fans of both teams made it unforgettable. Here's some more of our favorite NHL Winter Classic fan moments from our amazing Twitter followers:
@pep30 Standing in the rain to watch Nelly and the Blues proves this is a major league town. How awesome was that atmosphere. Perfect.— Mike Benning, Jr (@MikeBenningJr) January 3, 2017
@pep30 It didn't matter that it was cold and rainy. I was surrounded by awesome fans enjoying the high fives, best Blues Game Ever!!— Danine Preston (@Razielmarie) January 2, 2017
@pep30 best sports event I've ever been to, it was an unreal feeling being with 46k ppl who had one thing in common. The love of hockey— dany greene (@danygreene58) January 3, 2017
St. Louis proved it was a hockey town with the effort of Blues fans & ownership. The atmosphere was electric from start to finish. @pep30— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) January 3, 2017
Fans from both sides were able to focus on the event as a whole as they sang, ate and drank the day away to classic blues tunes, and other pop hits that seamlessly blended the baseball vibe with the hockey spirit. It was truly an amazing experience from start to finish, one that no one will forget for decades to come.