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Luukko Talks Winter Classic

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Comcast Spectacor President/C.O.O. Peter A. Luukko is originally from just outside of Worcester, Massachusetts. (Getty Images)
Peter A. Luukko, the president and C.O.O. of Comcast-Spectacor, spoke with the media during the first intermission of Thursday night’s 4-3 shootout win over the Boston Bruins. Luukko, a native of the Boston area, touched on a number of topics related to the upcoming game at Fenway Park between the Flyers and Bruins on January 1, 2010.

Below is a transcript of the Q and A between Luukko and local reporters. To watch video of the interview, click here.

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Luukko: "It's a real honor for us to be in this game. It's good for both teams, I think. The reaction we've had from the fans, I think we could sell 42,000 seats with just Flyers fans. It makes us think that maybe we can get one in the state of Pennsylvania at some point."

Q: Where are things in terms of tickets?
"We sent out a lottery to our fans so that they will have a chance at getting some of those tickets. We'll be tabulating that and then choosing the winners so they can buy some tickets. We've gone out with some travel packages. We actually have a train and we sold that out, so we've added more cars on other trains. It's really been very positive."

Q: How many tickets were you alloted?
"Around 5,000."

Q: Where are you from originally?
"I'm originally from Worcester. Auburn, a small town outside there. For me, I think I could personally sell 42,000 seats to that game (laughs). It's about 45 minutes to Fenway. I'm personally thrilled to be back there. I'm also personally thrilled to be able to skate at Fenway Park when we do the family skate. My whole family is going up, and my mother and father, so it's a big event for us as a family. It's kind of our winter vacation."
Q: Realistically, could the Flyers be in it again to get a game in Pennsylvania?
"Probably not that quick, but we're a great television draw, and it's very important for TV ratings. Obviously you look at Pittsburgh, the Stanley Cup Champions, I think to have a game in Pennsylvania against Pittsburgh would be just awesome and it's got to happen at some point.

"The other thing is the league is going to run out of cold weather sites at some point so the league is going to have to look at more and more creative things."

Q: Do you get a lot of responses from fans, or season ticket holders asking to push for [an outdoor game] in Pennsylvania?
“Oh yeah, when we do our season ticket holder meetings and fans, it’s amazing how much they want to see this game.”
Q: What are you telling fans who are having trouble getting tickets? Obviously this is a hard ticket to get, are there other avenues?
“No, there really isn’t. [The] NHL has a lottery and fans around the world can enter that one, and we have our lottery. There are other forms, somehow somebody gets some off on Stub Hub or something, but that’s not an official site.”
Q: When you look at what this has become, is it really one of the best things the NHL has done?
“It’s just fantastic. What’s so special about the event is that the game is a meaningful game. It’s a real game, it’s a regular season game, and it’s a great showcase for the sport. Maybe for people who don’t see hockey as much and it is great for the sponsors and awareness for the league. In a sense it’s become a bit of our Super Bowl.”
Q: Has there been a fight in a Winter Classic?
“I don’t know that. This could be the year (laughs)."
Q: Isn’t it the fact that hockey was born under the sky, outside, isn’t that the number one attraction?
“Yeah, it really bothers me when some people call it a gimmick. The roots of the game are on ponds. Kids throughout North America play pond hockey. Growing up myself in Massachusetts we lived on the ponds in the winter time. I think it brings the essence back from where the game came from. The late snow in Buffalo a couple years ago, that’s what it’s all about. It really brings the game back to its roots, which is really hard to do in sports. You can’t play an NHL game on pavement so I think it’s really great.”
Q: Do you also think it’s important that the NHL keep just one Winter Classic per year?
“I know there may be some talk about doing one in Canada, for Canadian TVs and the Canadian fans. Canada doesn’t have the venues though. Personally, I like the one game.”
Q: What did you think of the outdoor games as a youngster yourself?
“I remember skating and knocking the ice off my laces to take the skates off, and then if your feet were kind of ok, until you got into the warm air. I just remember that stinging and your feet being completely pink. It’s kind of a little funny. It hurt a little then, but it brings back a lot of memories.”
Q: What are your memories of being at Fenway Park over the years?
“Growing up there when I was a kid the Red Sox were kind of up and down. They were good in ‘67 and ‘75, but weren’t the best team in the league. It’s just such a special stadium. Nobody would have ever dreamed that, I would grow up skating on Fenway Park, playing a game. What’s really neat is the BU-BC game they’re going to play there, that’s another great, fantastic idea.”
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