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Heinz Field To Host 2011 Winter Classic
PITTSBURGH- What may be the worst kept secret in the NHL is about to be made official.
The NHL is expected to announce Friday that the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field in the 2011 Winter Classic, according to a TSN report.
An outdoor matchup on New Year's Day showcasing Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin -- the NHL's most prominent stars and rivals -- has long been rumored.
The game will fall just hours after the First Night celebrations downtown. City leaders hope that the game will offer a big boost for local businesses.
"I really think we're going to see businesses that will capitalize on this, that they will capture those folks who are coming into downtown and they will show them this is a great place to be so that they'll come back," said Hollie Geitner of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.
When other cities like Boston and Buffalo hosted the classic, they saw millions of dollars in revenue come in from hotels, restaurants and merchandise.
Crews will only have eight days to transform Heinz Field into an ice rink as the Steelers play the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field on Dec. 23.
The Penguins played in the 2008 NHL Winter Classic against the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.
An NHL-record crowd of 71,217 fans watched as Crosby scored in a shootout as snowflakes fell to give the Penguins a 2-1 victory.
It was the first regular season outdoor professional hockey game to be played in the United States.
Subsequent games have been held at Chicago's Wrigley Field in 2009 and Boston's Fenway Park in 2010.
TSN also reported that the Montreal Canadiens will travel to Calgary to play the Flames in a second outdoor game in February 2011.
Channel 4 Action News will post ticket information as soon as it becomes available.