Wrigley Field to swap baseballs for hockey pucks as host of the 2009 NHL Winter Classic
on December 8, 2008 by Administrator
The Major League Baseball season is long over but Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is gearing up to play host to another famous Chicago team steeped in sporting history. No, not the White Sox, but the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks.
On January 1st 2009, Wrigley Field will be the venue for the second annual NHL Winter Classic, where the hometown, Blackhawks, will face the 2008 Stanley Cup winning Detroit Red Wings. Last year’s inaugural event took place on an NFL football field, Ralph Wilson Stadium, the home of the Buffalo Bills, where the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres.
This will not be the first time that the Cubs have shared their beloved stadium with other sports teams. The NFL’s Chicago Bears played at Wrigley Field for 50 seasons until 1970 and the now defunct Chicago Sting soccer team was based in the ball park during the 1980s. This, however, will be the first occasion that it has hosted an ice hockey game. The ‘Windy City’ will make use of its cold winter climate to sustain a temporary outdoor rink in the outfield behind second base, with construction commencing on December 14th.
Baseball purists may disapprove of this transformation of the hallowed baseball field but, if last year’s Winter Classic is anything to go by, the outdoor event will make for a beautiful sporting spectacle.
The event’s detractors (especially any Cubs fans) may also like to consider the following fact. With the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox both overcoming their respective World Series curses in recent years, the Cubs’ one hundred year championship drought is now the longest of any North American professional sports team.
The historic Wrigley Field has not played host to baseball’s ‘Fall Classic’ since 1945 and, for now, Cubs fans will have to make do with hosting the 2009 NHL Winter Classic!