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NHL Stadium Series

Stadium Series rink construction nearly complete

Preparations on schedule for game at Heinz Field between Penguins, Flyers on Saturday

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Construction of the rink at Heinz Field for the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series is nearing completion.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV). The logos of the Penguins and Flyers have been placed below a golden arch above the rink's far wall with a large NHL logo prominently featured below the near wall.

The arch will serve as the top to a mock Fort Pitt Bridge, which will encompass the field with the rink in the middle.

"This is a tremendous week for us and a great weekend," said Steve Mayer, NHL executive vice president of events, entertainment programming and content development. "We're completely looking forward to this and how we can take what is a football field and transform it into a hockey rink. You can see it before your eyes.

"It never gets old, and the fact that we celebrate the game of hockey here in Pittsburgh this week and this weekend, in the home of the Stanley Cup champions, it's a great honor to be here."

Video: 2017 Stadium Series Heinz Field Time-lapse

The lines and logos were painted on the ice Monday but weren't visible Tuesday afternoon with a reflective blanket covering the surface. Glass panes are being inserted around the boards, which are surrounded by the partially-built field designs.

The ice hasn't experienced any significant setbacks.

Warm weather is expected throughout the week in Pittsburgh with the possibility of thunderstorms Saturday morning, according to Dan Craig, NHL vice president of facilities operations, is confident the ice will be of NHL quality for practices for each team on Friday and the game Saturday, despite the forecast.

"As anybody knows, when there are thunderstorms, the safety of our crew is No. 1," Craig said. "So we'll be in good shape on ice depth at that point. We'll just kind of regulate at that point. We'll be watching the radar as we normally do at [2:30 a.m.].

"[The Penguins and Flyers] know that when they're scheduled to be ready, we'll be ready. … We watch the weather very, very closely, and we won't put anybody's safety in jeopardy, ever."

The weather should be enjoyable for several fan events the NHL is planning Friday and Saturday.

A pregame will be held from 3 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET each day, highlighted by an hour-long performance from alternative rock band Kaleo outside Heinz Field before the doors open Saturday. Local bands will also perform Friday and Saturday, including the Hawkeyes, who will serve as the event's house band.

The pregame events will be free to the public.

"Those who have tickets are the ones that participate primarily on Saturday," Mayer said, "but if you want to come down and just take in the whole atmosphere, we welcome the fans to do that."

OneRepublic will perform during the first intermission Saturday. During the second intermission, the NHL will honor the nine Penguins, including forward Sidney Crosby , who were named to the list of 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian during the 2017 Honda All-Star Weekend.

The expected crowd of more than 60,000 fans will also witness "super unique" player introductions, Mayer said.

"From the time you come in, we transformed this into sort of that entertainment wonderland," he said.

That kind of atmosphere would not have been possible if the NHL had chosen to house the event at another venue in Pittsburgh, Mayer said. Because of his past experience during the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field, Mayer expects the Stadium Series to be another success.

"When we came back to Pittsburgh, there were a few locations we could have considered," Mayer said. "I think our greatest interest is to make these games as accessible to as many [people as possible] and also understanding the market. Admittedly, we could've been in a baseball field and we would've been sold out like that.

"There would've been a lot of fans who will enjoy the game on Saturday who would not have been able to enjoy the game had we gone the baseball route rather than Heinz Field. We were here once before. It was a tremendous event. Super successful. … We're extremely happy that this is the place that we're playing the game on Saturday."

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