Speculation had been running rampant for the past several months that Philadelphia would be the site for the fifth-annual NHL outdoor game, which is typically held on New Year’s Day. This season’s game is set to be played on January 2nd, however, due to the 1st falling on a Sunday.
While no definitive details have been officially announced, it is expected the game will be played at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. While it was hoped that the game could be played at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Philadelphia Eagles) due to its larger capacity, the Eagles have a home game at the field on January 1st, making such an arrangement impossible. Logistically, the NHL needs several days to set up the outdoor rink, which the Eagles game would hinder.
However, despite the lower capacity at Citizens Bank Park, previous Winter Classics have been successfully held in Major League Baseball parks, including both the 2009 Classic in Chicago’s Wrigley Field and the 2010 Classic in Boston’s Fenway Park.
In addition to being a yearly showcase of some of hockey’s best rivalries, the game has also become an unscientific predictor of possible future Stanley Cup success. One team from each of the first three Winter Classics has gone on to win the Stanley Cup in the next season, with the 2008 Winter Classic participant Pittsburgh Penguins winning the 2009 Stanley Cup, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins. Should this trend continue, either the Flyers or the Rangers could be on track to win the 2013 Stanley Cup.
The Winter Classic has traditionally been a huge ticket seller, with the last two games selling to capacity. The game also draws massive television ratings for hockey, which has traditionally had a difficult time bringing in large audiences for televised events outside of the Stanley Cup play-offs.
No official announcement has been made regarding when tickets for the game will officially go on sale. All that is known is that Winter Classic tickets have not been included in season ticket holders’ packages for this season.
“You will notice that only 43 games are included in your ticket and parking book(s),” the letter to Flyers season ticket holders states. “Winter Classic tickets are not a part of your 2011-12 season ticket package. However, all full season ticket holders will have the ability to purchase up to the same number of Winter Classic Packages as 2011-12 full season seats you own.”