Phillies' personnel excited to host Winter Classic
PHILADELPHIA -- While construction was happening on the field at Citizens Bank Park here on Monday, the Philadelphia Phillies held a press conference to announce the team had re-signed shortstop Jimmy Rollins to a three-year contract.
Right now, though, Rollins' position on the infield is just about where the Flyers' blue line will be located.
Members of the Phillies' organization have had a prime seat for the early stages of the transformation of the baseball stadium into the venue for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, a process that took a giant step Monday with the arrival of the 53-foot ice truck that houses almost all the equipment needed to create the rink the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will skate on when the puck drops Jan. 2.
2012 WINTER CLASSIC
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"It's pretty cool," Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told NHL.com. "It's been pretty neat watching the development, the things that are happening. … I've been watching every single day we walk in. I take a route in through the concourse and check out the progress. It's been neat to watch."
Phillies Chairman Bill Giles and team president David Montgomery, two of the key people behind the original construction of Citizens Bank nearly a decade ago, said when the park opened in 2004, they never imagined it being used as a hockey rink.
"When I got this ballpark built I never envisioned a hockey game being played here," Giles, who also serves as the honorary president of the National League, told NHL.com. "It's exciting for me. I'm going to bring my whole family down. It's exciting."
"It's probably something we hadn't thought much about until last January when Peter (Luukko, Flyers President) reached out and said it was a possibility," Montgomery told NHL.com. "It's an exciting time for us. We're very proud of the facility and we're pleased that after a couple of those venerable places like Wrigley (Field, in Chicago) and Fenway (Park, in Boston) that we're going to be the third baseball facility to host a Winter Classic."
Amaro said he'll be watching as the rink continues to take form over the next two weeks, and as a life-long Philadelphia-area resident – as well as a Flyers lifer – the GM can't wait to see the game.
"I'm born and raised here, a big Flyers fan," said Amaro. "I was here when the Broad Street Bullies were big-time. I think I was 9 or 10 years old when they were winning. And it's exciting. I've always been a big Flyers fan and a big Paul Holmgren fan. I really love their organization. They've got great people, had a ton of success. Probably been one of most successful franchises we've had here in this city. It's neat to be able to merge the two in some way, shape or form."
At some point, he said he even hopes to lace on a pair of skates and take a few turns on the Classic rink.
"I'm hopeful to get on the ice at some point with some of the employees at some point after the event," he said. "It's fun. It's great for the fans. I think it'll be exciting."
"It's nice to see for the fans," said Rollins, who has been with the Phillies since 2000. "For them to be treated to an outdoor game, the way hockey was probably when they were kids growing up playing, just having these unpredictable conditions. Maybe there'll be snowfall that day. It'll be pretty fun."
However, Rollins can't get too excited for the game. His new contract in hand and with the disappointment of last year's early playoff elimination fresh in his mind, he's focused on the 2012 baseball season.
"When the game's over," he said, "come dig it up."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK