Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Winter Classic II: Penguins in Lion Country?

First things first: You'll have to forgive me for the links to two of the following articles. archives their articles after only a short time of availability. The articles are then made available for their paid subscribers only. I am not a subscriber, and I am fairly certain most of you are not, either. So the links I've used below will direct you to Google's cached version of the articles. However, I'm not sure how long Google stores their cached pages, so make sure you check them out now if you're interested.

Siddo was in front of Geno (click to enlarge - you can only see Sid's shoulders).

Waaaaaaay back in December 2007, when all the hype for the highly anticipated Winter Classic was in full swing, I told you about reports that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell proposed holding an outdoor game between the Pens and their cross-state rivals the Flyers at Penn State University's Beaver Stadium. It may seem to some like that idea has been forgotten, but here in central PA, this rumor has grown legs:
Gov. Ed Rendell wants to see an annual outdoor hockey game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers at Beaver Stadium. He suggested the idea in a letter sent to the owners of both teams and the National Hockey League’s commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman discussed Rendell’s letter at a May 24 news conference, saying he didn’t “envision” a scenario where both teams would play annually outdoors, saying those events are “special and need to stay special,” according to a transcript.

“We’re not going to overdo it. The possibility of having the Penguins play the Flyers at some point in Happy Valley is intriguing and it’s on the list of possibilities that we are and will explore,” he said.
I must admit that I definitely agree with Bettman (WHAT?!) that having an annual outdoor game would definitely cheapen the experience. And if I'm being brutally honest with myself, I should also admit that I think the next outdoor game should be a few years from now and, in the interest of fairness, it should NOT include either the Buffalo Sabres or the Pittsburgh Penguins.

You have no idea how much I now wish I'd bought my new camera BEFORE the Winter Classic.

With that said, I don't think there are words in the English language to describe how excited I would be if the next outdoor game came here. But not everyone thinks it's as awesome an idea as I do. Why? In short, the region's weather and Beaver Stadium's parking (or lack thereof):
Two thoughts immediately sprang to mind on seeing Rendell’s request: Do you really think Central Pennsylvania’s weather will cooperate for you every year? And, more importantly, even for just a single game, where will everyone park?

While Penn State is certainly equipped to host a major sporting event in that stadium and in this town, where do the vast majority of football fans park? On the grass fields surrounding the stadium. Would you care to take your chances in one of those parking spots if there are a few inches of snow on the ground? Or if we’ve had several inches in December and it recently melted?

Plus, you cannot count on 30,000 students walking to the game from campus, like they do for football, because they would be on break and the dorms are closed, putting even more pressure on the parking situation.
Both of these are legitimate concerns. There's a saying here - if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes. It's cliché, but it's true. But the argument can be made that the weather is going to be a variable in any city that is chosen to host an outdoor game. Case in point: The weather in Buffalo switched back and forth between rain and snow throughout the entire game (haha, and the looooooong, careful drive home).

Our view of the National Anthems. I still can't get over how big the flags were.

As for the parking situation, I'm pretty sure it could be worked out with a mandatory shuttle system. This town has more than a few parking garages. Local businesses might even want to get in on the act and close their stores down for the day (everyone's hungover on New Year's Day anyway, haha). Instead they could make a decent amount of money charging for parking spaces. Over the winter break, enough of the students return home for the holidays that perhaps even PSU could designate a few parking lots for ticket holders... Okay well, and maybe pigs could sprout wings and fly, but you get the point. Because of the number of students living here, there is a decent public transportation system, so shuttling fans to Beaver Stadium wouldn't be a difficult feat to accomplish at all. I can't wait to see how this all pans out. If it happens, I'm SO THERE. :)

Now I leave you with few links for tonight:
Thanks so much for your feedback on our TSCS Summer Project. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's hometown + Penguins pride!

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