ORCHARD PARK, NY (LGS) — The worst-kept secret in all of sports became official this afternoon as executives from the National Hockey League and the Buffalo Sabres confirmed that Western New York will host a special NHL event called "Winter Classic 2008."
The Sabres will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 1pm on New Year's Day 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in a game that will surely shatter the NHL's single-game attendance mark.
"Staging this event in Buffalo in front of over 70,000 passionate hockey fans will further demonstrate that Buffalo is one of the greatest hockey cities in the world," said Sabres' owner Tom Golisano in a press release earlier today.
Ticket prices for the special game – sponsored by AMP Engery Drinks – will range from as much as $229 for club box seats to $10 for obstructed view seats in the lower bowl of the 73,967 seat-capacity stadium.
Tickets will go on sale tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 10am at all Ticketmaster.com outlets, Ralph Wilson Stadium, HSBC Arena, NHL.com, Sabres.com and PittsburghPenguins.com. Ticketmaster.com is the exclusive ticketing partner for Ralph Wilson Stadium and as such Tickets.com – the Sabres official ticket provider – will not have any part of the process.
In a letter expected to arrive today, Sabres' season-ticket holders will be notified that they will receive the same amount of seats to the game as they would normally have to any game at HSBC Arena. Season-ticket holders will also have the opportunity to buy additional seats to the game and they can also choose to receive a refund if they decide by September 28th that they rather not attend the outdoor game.
Buffalo Bills' club-seat holders also will get an early crack at the tickets but regular Bills' season-ticket holders will not.
- Click Here To View the Full Seating Chart (PDF)
- $225.00 - Red Zone/Goal Line Club
- $203.00 - Club Seats
- $110.00 - Upper-Level Lower-Bowl
- $90.00 - Middle-Level Lower-Bowl
- $60.00 - Lower-Level Lower-Bowl
- $55.00 - End-Zone Seats
- $39.00 - Upper-Deck #1
- $29.00 - Upper-Deck #2
- $10.00 - Limited Obstructed-View Seats
The game will be broadcasted nationally in the US on NBC, whom many credit for pushing the NHL for a marquee New Year's Day event. CBS and RDS will carry the game live in Canada. It will be the first modern-NHL game to be played outdoors in the United States.
In November 2003, the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Montreal Canadiens in front of 57,167 fans at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium during the NHL's "Heritage Classic."
"Many of our players have great memories of playing outdoors when they were growing up," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "This game provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase our great players, honor hockey's heritage and ring in the New Year with the best fans in sports."
The NHL selected Buffalo as the initial team to host the inaugural "Winter Classic" because of the team's recent success, community support from a rapid fan base, a committed ownership group and of course, ideal weather.
"This is an organization that we think does a great job of running its franchise and being a part of the community," added Bettman. "We know this entire area is great supporters of the NHL and hockey at all levels."
The NHL is hoping for temperatures in the mid-20s which would create ideal playing conditions. Severely colder weather will cause the ice to crack and significantly warmer weather could spell disaster.
The NHL will move into the Ralph on December 24th, a day after the Bills host the New York Giants. The entire building process will take roughly seven days to complete. Both teams are expected to practice on the ice for the first time on Monday, December 31st.
The NHL will be solely responsible for piggy-banking the event which is expected to cost well over a million dollars.
"It's going to be fun, it's going to be hard and it's going to be expensive as well as risky to put on but this was the right place at the right time with the right teams," Bettman added.
The NHL has preliminary contingencies in place for should weather not cooperate. Those plans will be made public in the near future.