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Wrigley has a unique feel for Classic

by Dan Rosen /
The Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2009, is steadily approaching. With the release of the artist's drawing of Wrigley Field decked out for hockey, let's take a virtual tour.

The rink is standard NHL size, but everything else fans will see once they enter Wrigley Field or watch the NHL Winter Classic on national television will be unique.

The 200-by-85-foot rink will be situated between first and third base.

The center-ice faceoff dot will measure exactly 112 feet from home plate and 288 feet from the center field wall. The penalty boxes will be precisely 9 feet behind the pitcher's mound.

Behind the team benches will be a 60-by-56-foot auxiliary rink constructed over the outfield grass. It will be used during the game by the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois. To the left and right of the auxiliary rink will be team logos that measure 40 feet long and 40 feet wide. Also draped on the outfield grass will be American and Canadian flags that measure 90-by-45-feet. There also will be batter's box logos of each team.

As far as seating, there are roughly 5,000 seats in the bleachers and another 35,000 stadium seats. Approximately 2,000 rooftop seats also are available, but those are sold by their owners, not the NHL.

The teams will enter the playing field via the dugouts and step up onto walkways that meet at home plate. The walkway will channel toward the rink and split so the players can enter the ice surface from doors located near their respective penalty boxes.

A roadway will also be built from the Zamboni tent, which is located in the right field corner, to the ice surface. The warning track will also be covered by a roadway.

A pair of video boards measuring 26-by-14-feet will be installed at each foul pole. Along with the main scoreboard above the center field bleachers, three video scoreboards also will be installed, one over the batter's eye in left-center field and two on ribbon boards beyond each set of end boards.

The broadcasters will call the game from a perch that will be built behind the team benches, between the auxiliary rink and the main rink. The studio booths for NBC, CBC and RDS will be spread throughout the outfield.

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