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Touch down Pittsburgh

Thursday, 12.23.2010 / 6:00 PM

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer / 2011 Winter Classic Blog

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2011 Winter Classic Blog
Touch down Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH -- This blog entry, the first of many from the ground here in Pittsburgh, is coming to you live from Seat No. 153 in the Heinz Field press box. As I look out the crystal clear glass in front of me I see a tarp spread out overtop the gridiron and the lights shining brightly on the yellow seats.

Steelers vs. Carolina in a matter of hours. Penguins vs. Capitals in a matter of days.

A football field tonight. The makings of a hockey rink tomorrow.

NHL.com has arrived on the scene for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, and the buzz it's obvious no matter where you go in this town. Pittsburgh has Winter Classic fever, and today's weather certainly helped.

Overcast skies. Snow falling lightly from the sky. Temperatures in the low to mid 30s.

Perfect, simply perfect for a hockey game.

As I drove in from the airport I spotted a bunch of kids playing street hockey on a snow covered rink. Street posts are adorned with Winter Classic banners. I saw several posters advertising '24/7 Penguins-Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic.' Heck, Sidney Crosby graced the cover of Pittsburgh's tourist magazine that I found inside my hotel room.

He's everywhere.

You can barely get past Franco Harris' statue inside the airport here before you come across a Winter Classic apparel kiosk. All kinds of hats, sweatshirts, scarves, fleeces, etc. are on sale.

So, yes, this town is ready for some outdoor hockey, but first plenty of work has to be done inside this first-class venue. It begins tonight, shortly after the Steelers and Panthers are done with the opening game of the NFL's Week 16 schedule.

At one end one end of the field the NFL Network will be rolling out its equipment while coming in from the other side will be the NHL and its gear. Workers will be going at it all night, laying down roadways and building the stage that will house the world's most portable and probably most famous hockey rink.

The webcam on NHL.com will get turned on soon after the Steelers game is finished.

The NHL's Ice Truck is expected to travel through the dark night arrive at Heinz Field around 1 o'clock in the morning. Unloading won't begin until sometime Friday morning and that's when Dan Craig and his ice crew will begin to get to work.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure