Hockey Starts '08 in a Football Stadium

The nation's first outdoor pro hockey match went down on New Year's Day amid the Rose Parade and the concomitant marathon of football events.
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The nation�s first outdoor pro hockey match went down on New Year�s Day amid the Rose Parade and the concomitant marathon of football events. NBC carried the NHL Winter Classic, held at Ralph Wilson Stadium outside of Buffalo, N.Y., where the Buffalo Sabres met the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of a sold-out live audience of more than 70,000.

Weather was reported to be a concern for organizers, particularly since Buffalo is renowned for its Ice Age worthy blizzards, and pucks don�t move swiftly through three feet of snow. Light flurries and temps in the low 30s were forecast for game day on weather.com. The snow got a bit heavier than predicted, but not enough to stop play. The Weather Channel franchise had a TV crew on the ground for the event, the second outdoor NHL match-up, but the first on U.S. terra firma. The first was played in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

WBEN, a radio station in Buffalo, reported that the football stadium was transformed into an ice hockey ruink using 30 miles of piping, 10,000 gallons of water and 2,500 sheets of plywood.

Sportsvideo.org reported that NBC employed 28 cameras and a fixed-wing aircraft to cover the event. NewTek, the San Antonio, Texas purveyor of 3D and animation products, said its TriCast portable live production suite was used by the NHL for its Webcast of the pre-game show.

The telecast received a 38.1 rating in the Buffalo's No. 50 designated market area, according to wire reports. The number represents around 243,840 television households.