Winter Classic Preview


Their has been anticipation and hype for the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field since it was announced in the spring, and now here we are only about a week away from the big game.  It is much more than just a game though; it is a must-see spectacle.  It is a week-long festival for the city of Pittsburgh that includes many events worth checking out, if the price is right for you.

  It all starts on Christmas Eve with the opening of a temporary outdoor public skating rink located at stage AE in the shadows of Heinz Field.  For only $7, you can enjoy a skating session on the ice every day until the big game on New Year’s Day.  Another event worth checking out is the college and minor league hockey double-header that will take place at the Consol Energy Center on Thursday, December 30.  With tickets starting as low as $20, you can witness the Robert Morris hockey team take on annual powerhouse Rochester Institute of Technology.  This ticket is also good for an AHL showdown to follow between the Wilkes-Barre Baby Penguins and the Hershey Bears who are the Washington Capitals farm team.  These are always two of the top minor league hockey teams and the Bears have won the last two Calder Cups (equivalent to Stanley Cup). 

The Winter Classic Alumni Game on New Year’s Eve at 9:30 a.m. is a unique event featuring Penguins greats going up against Capitals greats in a game to be played on the ice at Heinz Field.  The five Pittsburgh Hall of Famers that will suit up are Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier, and Larry Murphy.  Other alums playing for the Penguins include Phil Bourque, Rob Brown, Rod Buskas, Jay Caufield, Bob Errey, Dave Hannan, Francois Leroux, Troy Loney, Greg Malone, Gilles Meloche, Craig Simpson, Frank Pietrangelo, Gary Rissling, Rick Tocchet, Kevin Stevens, Warren Young, Gary Roberts, and the recently retired Billy Guerin.  Your ticket will also provide access to the current Penguins team open practice from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Heinz Field.  The problem is that if you don’t already have a ticket, you are not likely to get one.  Tickets were $25 and limited to the first 10,000 people, but sold out in only a few minutes.  To get in now, you will have to buy the tickets off of a ticket holder and the lowest price found online is currently $190. 

All of these events lead up to the big game at 1:00 p.m. on New Year’s Day between the Penguins and Capitals.  The NHL could not have picked a better match-up with young stars Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin facing off outdoors in what is once again becoming a great rivalry.  With the lowest ticket price online currently $250 for nose-bleed seats, most people are likely to be watching from home on NBC.  If you are lucky enough to be one of the 65,000 fans to pack the stadium, be sure to savor this once in a lifetime event.  However, if you are one of many of the fans who can’t get into the game itself, be sure to check out some of these exciting, more affordable options.