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The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Comes to Pittsburgh

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Updated: May 28, 2010

It was the worst kept secret in the National Hockey League and it became official this afternoon when Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Penguins would be hosting this year’s Winter Classic at Heinz Field on January 1st, 2011.

Personally, I am not sure I agree with the Penguins taking part in the league’s mid-season extravaganza so soon after launching the product three years ago against the Buffalo Sabres. I understand why the league wants them there, however there are 24 other teams that have never had a crack at participating in the event and it has got to rub them the wrong way. In fact, even the other team that is participating in this year’s event, the Washington Capitals seemed to take issue with the Penguins selection.

Nate Ewell, who is the Senior Director of Media Relations for the Capitals, said via his Twitter feed on March 28:

I can’t justify them playing in another one when 24 teams haven’t had the chance

As I said above, I agree with Ewell’s comment, however the thought of covering an event such as this does get me pretty fired up…

I will have more on this subject in a blog that I am penning for Versus.com… it will be up later this evening. In the meantime, here is the official release from the team featuring reaction from Penguins’ president David Morehouse and some of Pittsburgh’s political leaders.

PENGUINS TO HOST 2011 BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC

ON NEW YEAR’S DAY AT HEINZ FIELD

The Pittsburgh Penguins will host the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Saturday, January 1 at Heinz Field, it was announced today by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

“The Winter Classic has become an iconic event in its four years of existence, and the opportunity to host the game here in Pittsburgh, before a packed stadium of 65,000, is a tremendous honor for our organization,” Penguins president David Morehouse said. “With the cooperation of our friends at the Pittsburgh Steelers and Heinz Field, it will give us an opportunity to showcase the city to an international audience while celebrating Pittsburgh’s reputation as one of the premier sports towns in the United States.”

The 1 p.m. game will be televised nationally by NBC in the United States and CBC and RDS in Canada.

Morehouse said the Penguins are in the preliminary stages of planning activities surrounding the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and will work with the Mayor and County Executive, VisitPittsburgh, the Steelers and officials at Heinz Field to make the 2011 Winter Classic “a truly memorable event with a Pittsburgh touch.”

Details on ticket availability will be released by the NHL at a later date. All Penguins season ticket holders and suite holders will have the opportunity to purchase tickets. Fans can receive Winter Classic ticketing alerts and news updates by visiting nhl.com.

“We are excited that Heinz Field has been selected to host the upcoming Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” said Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney, II. “It will be an exciting kickoff to the New Year and an opportunity to showcase our city and Heinz Field to hockey fans around the world. We welcome the chance to partner with the National Hockey League and the Penguins to bring Pittsburgh a major sporting event that will benefit the entire community.”

Local political leaders hailed the decision as yet another positive step for the city and the region.

“We are honored to welcome the National Hockey League’s 2011 Winter Classic and excited for yet another opportunity to showcase our City, thanks to the success of our great sports teams and one-of-a-kind fan base,” Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. “There’s no better way to ring in a New Year than to host this pre-eminent winter festivity, which symbolizes the resurgence of hockey in this great city. From the Penguins’ 2008-09 Stanley Cup championship season, to the opening of the CONSOL Energy Center next season, the Classic will be another historic highlight to continue the legacy of the current Pittsburgh Penguins team.”

“We are thrilled that the NHL has chosen Heinz Field as the location for the 2011 Winter Classic,” said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. “It gives us the opportunity to showcase our great region, our passionate fans and our outstanding team. We are looking forward to once again having the eyes of the nation and the world on Pittsburgh.”

This is the third time in the four-year history of the Winter Classic that a team from Pennsylvania has participated (Penguins in 2008, Philadelphia Flyers in 2010), but this will be the first time the game has been hosted in the state.

“The Winter Classic is one of the great innovations the NHL has made that’s really boosted the game’s popularity and has been really well-received by fans,” said Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. “The fact that it will be played in Pittsburgh – in our very own City of Champions with our very own 2009 Stanley Cup champs the Pittsburgh Penguins – is really exciting. It’s a great testament to the regard the league and fans have for the team and the city.”

Having this unique platform to showcase the city and the region is especially exciting to Joseph R. McGrath, President and CEO of VisitPittsburgh.

“This presents yet another tremendous opportunity to showcase Pittsburgh and to illustrate why Pittsburgh was named both #1 Best Sports City and America’s Most Liveable City,” McGrath said. “We’re certain that Pittsburgh’s incredible fan base will be eager to witness what will be a tremendous game. And, we believe, they will come from all over to be a part of this momentous event. Another feather in Pittsburgh’s cap.”

Comments

8 Comments

  1. Evilpens

    May 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Who the Hell cares what The Craps turd Thinks !

  2. bmetzer

    May 28, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I was merely using it as an example of how other teams, namely the Caps are chaffed by the whole thing. Was sort of shocked that they were that bitter about it when THEY are in the game! Insane…

  3. Evilpens

    May 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I am not blaming you Metz !! Just saying who the Hell cares what he a FAT TED think

  4. Stokes

    May 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    although i agree that the Pens shouldnt be playing in the game this soon, i think that comment just more typical BS from the Craps. i’m sure it stems from having to share the stage with another big name(Pengins/Sid). remember, the arrogance in DC is unreal, from Fat Ted on down to Fat Bruce and Capt. Alex and so forth.

  5. Walshy

    May 28, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I’m a Pens fan, but no way should we be in this. The league is trying to recreate that awesome series we played 2 post seasons ago. It’s not going to happen. Move on and play other teams, use other markets, it is the NHL after. Great for the city of Pittsburgh though, I have a feeling that is what Wash is sour about, it is in Pitt, not Wash.

  6. Evilpens

    May 28, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    There is only so many places you can legitimately have an outdoor game Walshy, NYC & Philly are On the EC & this Past winter they got nailed with snow & cold, But it is a more Temperate climate than that

    Can’t have in Atlanta, TB, Florida =Sunrise?, Nashville, Dallas, St Louis, Carolina, SJ, LA, Anaheim, Phoenix, Washington is going to Be just as Dicey as those too

  7. Jmw66

    May 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I can see why it would rub some teams the wrong way but… The league wants higher ratings (especially since they were down this year) and Pens v Caps is probably the best draw for casual fans.

    As I ready some where else today (PD maybe?), the classic isn’t for hardcore fans as much as it’s for the causal “Sports Center” fan.

  8. ixnay8

    June 1, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I have mixed feelings about it all. I think it’s great to have the game in Pittsburgh and I can understand the league wanting to include the Pens again from a ratings standpoint. I just would have prefered to see Pens vs Flyers in Beaver Stadium at some point in the next couple years and there’s no way that happens now. I went to school at Penn State and I can tell you there’s nothing like being in a stadium with 105,000+ screaming fans. And with the venue being centrally located between the two cities and the intense rivalry involved it would have been an amazing day. The other problem I have with the Pens hosting the winter classic is that I feel like this will hurt our chances of getting an all-star game at the Consol Energy Center over the next few years.

    All that being said, it’s still pretty cool that the game will be in Pittsburgh this year and the Caps should make for a great opponent.