The Chicago Blackhawks are expected play an outdoor game at Wrigley Field next season.
On New Year's Day, 71,000 people packed a football stadium in Buffalo, N.Y., to watch the Buffalo Sabres play the Pittsburgh Penguins in an enchanting match. That's what people called it. There were real hockey players calling it while the snow fell on them. The NHL thought it was such a great idea that this year's version of that game will be happening in Chicago because of the resurgence of the team but also the sport in this big city market.
Blackhawks legends Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito basked in the adulation of Wrigley's regular tenants as they sang the seventh inning stretch at Friday's Cubs game.
"Right now, it's still a little bit iffy but sounding favorable. Hopefully there is a game. New Year's, too. It will be great. We can all have a party," said Esposito.
The Blackhawks want to bring the second winter classic here and are waiting for the NHL to make a decision, but it's not likely to happen until after the Stanley Cup finals end next week.
"Sure, I think it will be good and it's not going to hurt Wrigley Field," said Don Hunt, Cubs fan.
It appears they are edging out New York.
In 2003, the Montreal Canadiennes played in the bitter cold of Edmonton in a game dubbed the Heritage Classic.
"It would show those of them who had never seen it where hockey players grew up. Those of us in the olden times, indoor rinks were not invented," said Mikita. "It was strictly outside."
And the all-time leading Blackhawks' goal scorer, Hull, says it's a chance to again watch a different sport at Wrigley. Hull was there when the Bears beat the Giants in the 1959 NFL championships.
"It was cold enough to freeze without any machines and I think that would be a wonderful thing for the city of Chicago, wonderful thing for the Chicago Blackhawks and all of hockey to be able to boast that," said Hull.
Selling out Wrigley for baseball takes 41,210 seats. In Buffalo, they sold out 42,000 seats for the hockey game in 30 minutes. Also, we have received reports that to capitalize on any attention, and there would be a lot of it.
To capitalize on any attention organizers are also talking about having an NCAA college hockey game played there January 2 - the next day. So if you can imagine Notre Dame against Michigan State outdoors in January, that likely, too, would be a sellout.