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Winter Classic rink closer to completion

by Dan Rosen

PHILADELPHIA -- The ice is white and the blue lines are down. The crew is currently laying in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic logo that half-moons around the outside of the center-ice faceoff circle. The center ice faceoff dot is in and the outlines of the red line are as well. The goal lines are also being laid in.

A hockey rink is most definitely taking shape here at Citizens Bank Park.

NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig told this morning that things are looking good and that he was even able to leave the ballpark by 8 p.m. Wednesday after arriving shortly after 6 a.m. He had members of his crew stay until midnight sealing in the white paint that they put on the ice sheet earlier in the evening.

The challenge is to have all the lines, logos, faceoff dots, circles, goal creases, trapezoids -- every possible marker -- frozen into the ice by 11 a.m. Thursday because that's about when the sun will start to cover the ice sheet.

Outside the boards, workers are busy laying long and wide white strips of foam on all the exposed grass areas. Without any natural snow at their disposal, the NHL uses the white foam to give the ballpark that wintery look. It's especially picturesque on television when NBC uses its airplane camera.

Outside the ballpark, work on Spectator Plaza continues. It is set to open at 9 a.m. on Dec. 31.

There is more of a buzz in the ballpark this morning. Several more NHL staff members arrived late last night and NHL Network will begin its coverage from Citizens Bank Park later today with NHL Live at 5 p.m.

We'll have more later, including an updates from both Dan Craig and Don Renzulli as well as some of the thoughts from Phillies President David Montgomery, who will be here to meet the media at 10:30 a.m.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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