When the NHL’s ice crew began painting the lines on the ice rink at Heinz Field Tuesday, it wasn’t Dan Craig, the league’s Facilities Operations Manager, who outlined the crease.
It was Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl, wearing a Sidney Crosby
Winter Classic jersey, who joined three youth hockey players to paint the blue lines outlining the crease.
The players – Janelle Norkvicus, A’Shon Burgess and Ian Banks – are all from the Pittsburgh ICE inner-city hockey program.
Ravenstahl commended the Penguins for including the community as much as possible in different events leading up to Saturday’s big game.
He’s excited as any other Pittsburgher for New Year’s Day. But from his perspective as mayor, he said the most important part of the Winter Classic is what the event means to the city, and how it will allow Pittsburgh to continue to change its image around the country and the world.
“We all know this is a great sports town, and we get to show it off this weekend once again,” Ravenstahl said. “The Penguins have been great with including the community with events all up until Saturday’s game, we see that here again today with the young kids painting the lines.RELATED: Photo Gallery >>
“The reality is that there’s only going to be 65,000 people that are going to be able to get in here on Saturday, but the hundreds of thousands that are experiencing it in other ways I think is what the Penguins are to be commended for. The thousands of young kids that are going to play hockey on the rink outside of Heinz Field is an experience they’ll never forget.”
Tuesday afternoon marked the first time the mayor had been to Heinz Field since the NHL’s crew laid down the ice. He was thoroughly impressed, but said it’s going to look even better on Saturday with 65,000 people in the stands.
Ravenstahl isn’t just excited about the game itself – he’s thrilled about the significant impact that the Winter Classic is having on Pittsburgh’s economy.
“Historically on New Year’s Day, restaurants are closed. They’re not open for business,” he said. “And to have the shot in the arm the Winter Classic will provide, not only here on the North Shore but throughout downtown and in our neighborhoods, is going to be significant. It’s difficult to put a number on that today, but I know the estimates are in the $20-30 million range of economic impact that this event will have.”
If it weren’t for the Winter Classic, that’s $20-30 million that flat out wouldn’t be spent in our city during that day. So that’s one of the benefits of having an event like this, and why we work so hard to attain it." Watch NHL Facility Operations Manager Dan Craig get some help painting the ice, from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, and some members if the Pittsburgh ICE Youth Hockey Team: