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Winter Classic Start Time Pushed Back To 8 P.M.

Weather worries for much of the last week came to fruition this evening when the NHL officially pushed back the opening faceoff of the 2011 Winter Classic to 8 p.m. from the game’s originally scheduled start time of 1 p.m.

Per the NHL:

PITTSBURGH – The National Hockey League announced today the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will change the original 1 p.m. (ET) start time on New Year’s Day to 8 p.m. (ET). The decision was based on the latest meteorological reports, which have advised an approaching front of potentially steady rain expected to fall through the afternoon and taper off by early evening, and after consultation with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals, national broadcast partners (NBC, CBC, RDS), the Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, and local officials.

We have been further advised that cooler and drier air conditions are expected in the evening with the passing of the front. The NHL feels that it was important to make this announcement at this time so as to minimize the inconvenience to all parties associated with the event, especially its fans.

All 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic tickets will continue to be honored and all ticket holder agreement language remains unchanged.

Additionally, fans attending the game should take note of the following changes:

Gates to Heinz Field will now open at 5:30 p.m. (ET)

Pre-game entertainment now begins at 7:30 p.m. (ET)

Heinz Field Parking Lots will now open at 2:30 p.m. (ET)

Spectator Plaza will now open at 3 p.m. (ET)

The most recent forecast from The Weather Channel has rain starting this evening and continuing throughout Saturday, with the front eventually dissipating some time after 6 p.m. Temperatures, meanwhile, should hold steady around the mid-to-upper 40s.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.