(Ed. Note: Puck Daddy correspondent Ty May went down to Solider Field in Chicago on Wednesday to learn a thing or two about the Hockey City Classic in Chicago next February.)
By Ty May
The first hockey games played at Soldier Field will be held on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 (aka Presidents Day Weekend). The Minnesota Golden Gophers will battle the Wisconsin Badgers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will face the Miami Redhawks.
The rink will be up for a two-week period — the Hockey City Classic Winter Festival — culminating with the four universities playing on the grand stage. Youth hockey teams and any hockey fans in Chicago will have the opportunity to skate on the ice. Many youth programs and free skates will be hosted.
Chicago-based sports and entertainment marketing agency Intersport created the event. Drew Russell from InterSport said:
"As Chicagoans, we take great pride in the fact that we live in one of America's best sports towns. From baseball to football, basketball to soccer, and auto racing to golf, sports are in our DNA. The city's passion for one sport (hockey) continues to grow. Whether it's the Blackhawks or the Wolves, the Steel, or USA hockey, Chicago is home to 2 million avid hockey fans.
"In addition there are more Chicagoland youths and adults playing organized hockey here in the city then ever before. There is no doubt about it, the Windy City is actually the Hockey City."
Here are some of the sights from the Solider Field hockey announcement:
Coming up, a few words with Miami defenseman Steve Spinell of Vernon Hills, Ill.
University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, Miami University and University of Notre Dame collectively represent 11 national championships, 36 Frozen Four appearances, and since 2008 at least one of these teams has participated in the Frozen Four. For Minnesota, Notre Dame and Miami, this will be the first time the school has ever played an outdoor game.
"Thank you to everyone. We have a huge Miami alum in the Chicago land area, so it's going to be fun to play in front of them. And also being from the area, having family and friends out, its going to be an amazing experience," said Steve Spinell, a senior with the Redhawks.
Is he excited for the opportunity playing here at Soldier Field?
"Yeah it's going to be unbelievable. I'm expected to see this place pretty packed and full or close to it," said Spinell.
We also spoke with Tim LeFevour, general manager for Soldier Field:
Q. Where exactly are the nets going to be?
TL: "The backboards will be on the 18 yard lines, which means the goals will be on each 21 yard line."
Q. Did you talk to Wrigley Field about how they constructed the field for their outdoor game?
TL: "Wrigley Field has always been good friends of ours and we've talked to them a lot, and the people here at InterSport they know what they're doing so we're in good shape already with how we're going to lay the rink out."
Game time and television partners will be announced at a later date. Tickets will go on sale Monday, Oct. 1 to the general public. There will be a presale to season ticket holders of each university and Chicago Bears season ticket holders. Fans can visit www.HockeyCityClassic.com to register for more information, breaking news, ticket information, and way to rent out the ice.