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Despite pressure to deliver snow, Phillies excited

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Despite pressure to deliver snow, Phillies excited
PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Phillies President David Montgomery might have the hardest job leading up to the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
 
It's his duty to make ensure there's snow. At least, that's the task NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman assigned him during Monday's announcement that the League's mid-winter classic will be played at the home of Montgomery's baseball team, Citizens Bank Park.
 
Montgomery oversees the team with the best record in Major League Baseball and winner of five straight National League East titles, but even he might not be that powerful.
 
"Both Gary and Ed (Snider, Flyers Chairman) seemed to put the weather on us," Montgomery said with a chuckle. "We'll see how it goes."
 
Montgomery said he was more than happy to allow the NHL to host its annual outdoor game at his team's home, saying he was proud to join Wrigley Field and Fenway Park as the only baseball stadiums to host the game.
 

"We have a strong relationship with the Flyers. We do a number of things together. (Flyers President Peter Luukko) called me and said I think we have a chance of getting the Classic and I said tell us what it's going to take to make the facility available. He said I'll get you in touch with the people from the NHL and we sat down and they had a blueprint from the four previous years. We told them several things we felt had to be different here. We were able to make an accommodation that works for the NHL and works for us." -- Philadelphia Phillies President David Montgomery

He cited the strong relationship between the Flyers and Phillies as one reason linking up for this game was so easy.
 
"We have a strong relationship with the Flyers," Montgomery told NHL.com. "We do a number of things together. (Flyers President Peter Luukko) called me and said I think we have a chance of getting the Classic and I said tell us what it's going to take to make the facility available. He said I'll get you in touch with the people from the NHL and we sat down and they had a blueprint from the four previous years. We told them several things we felt had to be different here. We were able to make an accommodation that works for the NHL and works for us."
 
First opened in 2004, Citizens Bank Park has hosted a pair of World Series, including the Phillies' triumphant championship win against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. The Winter Classic will be another bellwether event in the short history of the stadium.
 
"If our ballpark can be used to host an event like the Bridgestone Winter Classic, it's extraordinary," said Montgomery. "We're pleased the facility has the amenities to make it more than usable, and the neat thing is because it's a baseball ballpark, we can serve the community longer by having the ice here for a 10-day period, which will enable us to do this alumni game, enable us to have the Phantoms game, and hopefully make good use of the ice in between those dates. It becomes more a Philadelphia happening than a one-day event."
 
While Montgomery is used to seeing a packed house -- the Phillies have a streak of 204 consecutive sell-outs -- seeing his stadium filled to capacity on Jan. 2 is something he can't quite envision.
 
"I really can't," he said. "We've been so lucky to have played in front of sell-out crowds here with the ball club. I guess I can envision the fact that this, too, will be packed, but it's going to be very different to be hosting it in early January."
 
If all goes well, the Winter Classic will be the first game played at Citizens Bank Park following the Fall Classic.
 
"We hope to play this game after another World Series win," said Snider.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
 
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