Ever since the NHL held the first Winter Classic in 2008, Flyers fans have been imagining the day when the Bullies would meet the cross-state Pittsburgh Penguins in State College, PA for an outdoor game at Beaver Stadium.
The rivalry is heated, the venue is obvious. All the league needs to do is slap it on the schedule.
Okay, so it’s not quite as simple as that. There is tremendous amount of planning involved in these events, not only on the league’s end, but for the host site and television network as well. Winter Classics don’t spring up overnight.
Great news: on Thursday Tim Panaccio confirmed a report that Penn State is considering hosting an outdoor hockey game, and Flyers president Peter Luuko is hopeful the contest would be between Philly and Pitt. Panotch writes that there are three issues to overcome first however.
Only three? Fantastic. What are they?
2. The university winterizes the stadium in January
3. NBC does not want an outdoor game in December because it would preempt the Classic
Really? That’s it? I was expecting overwhelming hurdles based on the story’s headline, and they give us parking and scheduling conflicts.
I can’t even take the parking problem seriously – it can be solved. As for having to dance around everybody’s desired schedules, you would think all of the coin involved would take care of that. The university is going to rake in a ton of cash regardless of when they have the game, which normally trumps everything else.
As for NBC, they undoubtedly are aware of – not to mention likely televising – most of the six outdoor games the NHL will play in 2013-14. That’s not a complaint, but you have to admit the league already made the one dubbed the Winter Classic a lot less unique. What does it matter if a game is played at Penn State in December?
It seems likely that all parties involved will eventually come to a mutual agreement, and the Flyers will one day face off against the Penguins at a neutral site in Pennsylvania. And whenever it happens, I suspect it will be a marquee game on the NHL schedule, perhaps even a future Classic.
Still, it’s frustrating to hear these are the kinds of reasons causing further delay. Figure them out and play the game. The university will be happy to take the money, the network will be happy to generate the ad revenue and exposure, and the fans in PA will get their dream hockey matchup.
Sounds like a win-win situation for everybody – except the Penguins, we hope.