Dear Alyssa’s Blog:
I skated at Wrigley today!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the NHL is having its third Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. It’s an outdoor hockey game, this year between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field. E.J. Hradek – my fellow ESPN Mag hockey scribe – and I arrived in the Windy City this morning, checked in to our respective hotels and took the Red Line out to Addison Street. We ducked into Gate K, took the first tunnel up to take a look and, well, wow. They’ve parked a sheet of ice right on top of Ernie Banks’ office, stretched across the middle infield with Wrigley’s ivy-covered walls and big green scoreboard in the background. The NHL has even covered the outside dasher boards with aesthetically pleasing faux-Wrigley brick.
WRIGLEY UNDER ICE …
But of course, it wouldn’t be an NHL event without rules: No skating unless you have your own skates. You must sign a waiver. You must provide an emergency contact. You must wear an orange bracelet proving you signed a waiver and provided an emergency contact. No sticks or pucks or cameras (riiiiight …) on the ice. No horseplay. No walking on the grass. No walking on the dirt. In fact, no walking on anything that isn’t Dura-Deck. Everyone skating must walk in a single-file line through the dugout. Everyone must enter the ice surface as a group. When the horn blows, everyone must immediately clear the ice surface.
Regulations aside, it was pretty cool, despite just skating in circles for the 45 minutes we were out there. NHL ice guru Dan Craig, who once said to me, “Hon, I can make ice in the desert,” did a great job with the sheet, and promises he’ll have the crunchy spots in the corners all smoothed over by Thursday afternoon. However, one thing even Dan can’t control is the sun glare, which will be pretty wicked for whichever goalie is playing on the third-base side. But it is, after all, a ballpark: Eye-black is permitted.
I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THIS SHOT IN THE 2009 SPORTSWRITER-OF-THE-MONTH CALENDAR.
Another perk from today was that I got to one-up Grandpa Yogi. He certainly can’t say he has ever skated on Wrigley Field. And I don’t even care that when I called to tell him about my experience, his response was, “Now, what the hell would I want to do that?”