The NHL isn't the only highly anticipated hockey that's been delayed this early winter. But when it comes to the Penguins Pond, don't blame the lockout.
The community outdoor rink that initially was constructed outside of Heinz Field as part of the festivities surrounding the Jan. 1, 2011, Winter Classic has rapidly become a Pittsburgh tradition. The third season for it, however, will be an abbreviated one. The Penguins moved their Pond to the new Highmark Stadium in Station Square.
But with that facility — the future home of the Riverhounds — still being constructed, the outdoor rink couldn't open as planned.
“The only challenge this year was we had to wait until they were far enough along on construction of the new stadium before we could schedule an ice rink,” Penguins vice president of communications Tom McMillan said. “The plan was to have it opened by Thanksgiving. Once that wasn't possible, the decision was, do we skip it this year? Or do it in a shortened time frame? We decided it was important enough to a lot of people to go through with it.”
The rink is scheduled to be open Dec. 14-Jan. 13. It will be used for public skating sessions and PIHL, PAHL (youth/amateur) and Penguins Elite (junior) games.
The Pond was at the South Side Works last winter. The new site was chosen to be visible from vantage points downtown, as well as provide a skyline backdrop.
“It's an ideal facility. You have the scoreboard and the locker rooms and parking already there,” said PIHL commissioner Ed Sam, who said 25-28 of the scheduled 40 games could be played. “It's a great idea. We just ran into some construction problems. Next year should be no sweat.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
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