"I'm personally thrilled to be back there and thrilled to be able to skate on Fenway Park when we do the family skate. My whole family is going up -- my mother and father will be there, so it's a big event for us as a family. It's our winter vacation." -- Flyers President and Mass. native Peter Luukko
President Peter Luukko is excited for the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic for reasons other than the fact that his team is involved in the New Year's Day hockey extravaganza.
For Luukko, a native of Auburn, Mass., it's a chance to do something he never believed would be possible -- skate on the hallowed field at Fenway Park. He grew up about 45 minutes from the storied home of the Boston Red Sox and spent numerous summer nights at the ballpark watching his hometown team.
"I'm personally thrilled to be back there and thrilled to be able to skate on Fenway Park when we do the family skate," Luukko said. "My whole family is going up -- my mother and father will be there, so it's a big event for us as a family. It's our winter vacation."
Luukko said fan interest in the Winter Classic among Flyers fans has been outstanding.
"It's a real honor for us to be in this game," Luukko said. "It's good for both teams. If you look at the reaction we've had from the fans, I think we could sell 42,000 seats with just Flyers fans."
Instead, the team has been allocated about 5,000 tickets, and it is holding a lottery for season-ticket holders, with the winners earning the right to buy tickets to what has become hockey's biggest regular-season event.
"What's so special about the event is the game is a meaningful game -- it's a real game, it's a regular-season game," Luukko said. "It's a great showcase for the sport, for people who don't see hockey so much -- great for sponsors, for awareness for the League.
"In a sense, it's become a bit of our Super Bowl."
Luukko said the club is working with travel agents to put together travel packages for fans trekking up to Boston.
"We have a train and we sold that out," Luukko said, "and we've added more cars on other trains, so it's been very positive."
That overwhelmingly positive fan reaction has Luukko hoping the Flyers can be in position to host a Winter Classic at some point in the not-too-distant future.
"We're a great television draw and that's very important," Luukko said. "Obviously you look at Pittsburgh, Stanley Cup champions -- I think to have a game against Pittsburgh in the state of Pennsylvania would be just awesome."
Among the sites that could host a game in the state are Beaver Stadium at Penn State University, Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It's doubtful the conditions in Philadelphia would allow for a game to be played in the eastern half of the state.
"We're going to continue to monitor weather patterns in Philadelphia," Luukko said. "It's tough here -- the weather pattern isn't very good."
But if there's a way, Luukko said the organization will do everything in its power to make it happen.
"When we do our season-ticket holder meetings ... it's amazing how much the fans want to see this game in the marketplace," Luukko said. "You can see how much they like the Winter Classic by how so many of them want to go to Boston."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.