Report: Wrigley Field to Host 2009 NHL Winter Classic

Steve MContributor IJuly 7, 2008

Reports from the NHL have surfaced that Chicago will host the now annual NHL Winter Classic on New Years Day 2009.

The outside contest will be held at the Chicago Cubs' historic Wrigley Field in a game between the young Chicago Blackhawks and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.

The NHL has decided to bring more commercial appeal to the world of hockey, by teaming up two of the games most storied franchises.  Moreover, the NHL expects the young and experienced talent that both of these teams bring to the table will help draw record crowds. 

The NHL has decided to continue its experiment of the Winter Classic due to the huge success of last year's game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, the home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

The Penguins and Sabres battled in front of more than 71,000 fans in a near blizzard and sub-zero temperatures to a tie at the end of regulation. None other than Sidney Crosby ended the game in a shootout, when the ice was barely visible capping off a historic day for both teams and the NHL.

The intense and abnormal conditions of last years Classic turned out to be a blessing in disguise, returning record ratings for the NHL. The '08 game received the highest televisions ratings for an NHL regular season game since Wayne Gretzky's final game in the spring of 1999.

The NHL hopes that the mix of two original six franchises, along with some of the games biggest names both young and old, will help return similar numbers as the '08 game in Buffalo.

The NHL is expected to make an official announcement following confirmations between the Chicago Cubs, the Mayor of Chicago, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

*The NHL hosted an outdoor game in Edmonton in 2003 in a contest between the Montreal Canadians and the Edmonton Oilers.