Zambonis arrive for Wrigley hockey game

CHICAGO Luckily, driver Danny Ahearn who pilots Zambonis at the United Center escaped injury when the brakes froze and the engine wouldn't work... And this exceedingly task-specific machine held a wheelie longer than its creator, likely would have predicted

"It stalled and then we tried to lift it up to start it up again. We found out that the brakes were frozen. Everybody was standing there and saw the baby come fly off there. It's OK," said Dan Craig, Ice consultant, NHL.

By Thursday night the boards will be up and the aluminum bed for the water that will turn to ice will be in place. Last year's Winter Classic in Buffalo saw the playing surface deteriorate badly during the game. This year, the NHL's says it has more time to get ready.

"Anytime you take a hockey rink and put it outside in a staurges you're not going to have optimal conditions," said Don Renzulli, SVP Events and Entertainment, National Hockey League.

Seventy thousand people and more are expected to watch the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Detroit Red Wings Jan. 1.

The NHL says they've had nearly a quarter of a million requests for seats. So along with the 350 gallons of paint that will be used to transform the friendly confines into a hockey rink. They're even going to have fake ivy on the walls. The demand for tickets is great - even up there.

With the 200x85 foot rink closer than home plate, Steve Alexander is sold out for the game New Year's day. At 300 dollars a head to watch an outdoor hockey game in the middle of winter, even this impressario marvels at the hardiness of Chicago sports fans.

"Even though our facilities have an indoor club room, everybody I've booked is so dear good up about sitting in the cold," Steve Alexander of

That's sentiment about which both new and older icons of Chicago sports would likely agree.

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