- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Washington Capitals likely will be heading to Pittsburgh at New Year’s to participate in the annual Winter Classic, taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field, home of the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Caps, who were rumored to have been a finalist for this year’s edition at Fenway Park before the Philadelphia Flyers got the nod, apparently will take on their rival outdoors in the 65,050-seat stadium. With the Capitals currently leading the Eastern Conference and the Penguins the defending Stanley Cup champions, the National Hockey League apparently is willing to allow the Pens to play for the second time in four years to feature the Sidney Crosby-Alexander Ovechkin matchup in what has become the NHL’s most-viewed regular-season game of the campaign.

There is no official word from the NHL or the Penguins — and there may not be until the NHL schedule is released in mid-summer — but the Post-Gazette reports the Steelers are working on tailoring their 2010 schedule to ensure that there is enough time to set up the surface on the field. Since the process to put down the artificial rink takes several days and has led the league to pick two baseball venues in Wrigley Field and Fenway Park after holding its first U.S.-based outdoor game at Ralph Wilson Stadium outside Buffalo in 2008, the Steelers reportedly are willing to play a Thursday night game on Dec. 23, then hit the road for New Year’s weekend to allow setup.

But with that extra time to set up, the league may be more receptive to a move back to a larger stadium — with more seats for sale. Tickets sold for up to $350 apiece for this year’s edition.

While PNC Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates, also was mentioned as a possible site for the event, the size of the park reportedly precluded it from selection.

The D.C. Council passed a resolution to host the event at either RFK Stadium or Nationals Park, but the NHL reportedly is a bit wary of the fickle weather in the nation’s capital on Jan. 1.