Jim Balsillie finally gets his wish: The NHL is headed to Hamilton. No, a franchise isn’t relocating, but the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres will take part in the 2022 Heritage Classic at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario on March 13 of next year. The field is home to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released this statement.
"We are excited to announce that we will be presenting another Tim Hortons Heritage Classic this season. When the Toronto Maple Leafs meet the Buffalo Sabres at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, we again will honor Canada’s preeminent role in the history of our game while renewing a great and longstanding NHL rivalry. In addition, by inviting the first U.S.-based team to a Heritage Classic, we will celebrate the greater Golden Horseshoe region as the home of so many fans of both the Leafs and Sabres."
The event has previously been held in NHL cities, but in 2019, the league branched out and held the Heritage Classic in Regina, Saskatchewan, where it was a huge success. This will be a similarly neutral-feeling location with the Sabres as the first U.S.-based team taking part. It will be Toronto’s fourth regular-season outdoor game and first since the 2018 Stadium Series. The Sabres have been involved in two previous outdoor games, including the 2018 Winter Classic.
Tim Hortons Field is a multi-purpose stadium that hosts the Tiger-Cats and Forge FC of the Canadian Premier League and will be the venue for the 2021 Grey Cup in December. It has a normal capacity of close to 24,000, but that can be expanded to nearly 40,000 for special events, according to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, who reported last month that this game was in the works.