Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Monday that the city would erect a large screen in Copley Square to hold a free viewing party for the 2016 NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day, but the television networks quickly put the kibosh on the mayor's plans. On Tuesday, TD Garden officials told city hall that Boston would not be able to host a viewing party after all, as NBC refused to grant the necessary broadcast license for the Boston Bruins' game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Instead, fans will either have to fork over big money to find last-minute tickets to the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium, or they will have to stay home to watch the game. According to a statement provided to the Boston by NBC and the NHL, the broadcast would violate NHL media-right policies.
Boston fans who flooded social media Monday with excitement about the viewing party shared their displeasure over the cancellation as news spread late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning.
Furthering Boston disappointment was the news that long-time Bruins anthem singer Rene Rencourt will not perform the national anthem at the Winter Classic, as that privilege was granted instead to “The Voice” winner Justin Smith. Bruins fans created a petition on Change.org in an attempt to get NBC to allow the Canadiens' and Bruins' respective anthem singers to perform instead. The petition had over 2300 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
“Public viewing gatherings for nationally televised regular-season games are not permissible under NHL media-rights policies.”