Temps in 50s, rain threaten Classic
Early forecasts call for unseasonably warm temperatures and rain Saturday, but the NHL plans to exhaust all options to play the 2011 Winter Classic hockey game at Heinz Field this weekend.
An NHL official confirmed Sunday that a "long window" exists in which to play the outdoor game between the Penguins and Washington Capitals, scheduled for 1 p.m. New Year's Day.
If the game cannot be played Saturday, the league has reserved Heinz Field for Sunday and will attempt to play the game then, according to an e-mail from Jamey Horan, NHL vice president of player development/event communications.
If the game cannot be played Saturday or Sunday, it will be rescheduled for later in the season in Consol Energy Center. No details were available regarding ticketing or refunds.
According to AccuWeather, Saturday's high temperature will be 53 degrees. The normal high for Jan. 1 is 36 degrees. The forecast calls for a high of 41 degrees Sunday.
Unseasonably 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.
Regardless of the air temperature, the playing surface will be kept at 22 degrees, Craig said.
"The aluminum flooring and refrigeration system is very efficient," he said. "We can tweak the (ice) temperature within 30 minutes."
Steady rain, however, can cause problems. It won't immediately freeze, and the accumulating water could flood the rink's surface, Craig said. After the water does freeze, it could create an uneven surface, possibly risking the players' safety, he said.
AccuWeather is calling for three hours of rain and a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms Saturday. The forecast worsens Sunday, with 12 hours of rain in the forecast, according to AccuWeather.
"There are a lot of variables we have to balance to get where we want to be, and we are always keeping in mind players' safety," Craig said.
In addition to rain, he said, swirling winds and the reflection from sunshine present other potential problems for the outdoor rink, which is expected to be completed today.
A practice day is scheduled for Friday, but Craig said Thursday is an "important" date in the rink preparation process.
"December 30th is when we dial in," he said. "We'll be at the level of ice we want at that point, and we'll start to make adjustments accordingly."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.