NHL Winter Classic: The NHL Prepares For Dire Weather On New Years Day

According to The Weather Channel, a warm front should be hitting Pittsburgh around the start of the New Year. A major problem for the Winter Classic? Not really. But what could derail the heavily-anticipated game is the precipitation that could be coming along with it.

With The Weather Channel projecting a high near 50 degrees and chances of rain at 40% for the day of the game, the threat of inclement weather forcing a postponement or cancellation of the Winter Classic has become a legitimate threat.

Rob Rossi from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently spoke with an NHL official who outlined the league's contingency plans for the game:

If the game cannot be played Saturday the league has reserved Heinz Field for Sunday and will attempt to play the game then, NHL vice president of player development/event communications Jamey Horan said in an email.

If the game cannot be played Saturday or Sunday it will be rescheduled for a date later in the season, and the game will be held at Consol Energy Center.

Earlier in the week, NHL operations facilities manager Dan Craig had also outlined the major concerns for the the event:

Warm temperatures are not a primary concern because of an elaborate refrigeration system that cools the outdoor ice rink, NHL operations facilities manager Dan Craig told the Tribune-Review last week.

...

Craig said rain, swirling winds and the reflection of bright sunshine were potential problems for the outdoor rink that is expected to be completed by today.

Any type of delay for the game would obviously be a blow to the NHL, which has invested significant time and resources into making the Winter Classic a premier holiday sporting event. The fact that the NHL has a thorough contingency plan, had the foresight to book Heinz Field on the following day, and has ample technology to deter warming temperatures is a good sign. But technology can only do so much to protect an uncovered rink from rain and sleet.

In the meantime, most involved will simply be crossing their fingers and hoping for a dry start to 2011.

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