NHL'S New Year's Day game is in Philadelphia this year

Weather can force changes



PHILADELPHIA — A week from today, a hockey game will be played outdoors in Citizens Bank Park.

The temperature right now is unseasonably warm, although this is the risk the NHL was willing to take when it agreed to play the annual Winter Classic in Philadelphia, the southern-most city that has played host to the event.

This will be the fifth incarnation of the Winter Classic, with the first four being played in Buffalo, Chicago, Boston and Pittsburgh.

The NHL has experienced different weather patterns for the event, and the game needed to be moved to the evening in Pittsburgh last season, when it was rainy and in the low 50s during the afternoon.

"We were guaranteed snow as part of the contract," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman joked when asked how Philadelphia was selected to be the site this year.

The unpredictability of the weather is one of the factors the NHL must consider when determining what market will play host to the game.

The NHL needs decent working conditions for the players and aesthetically pleasing conditions for the fans and television for a successful event.

"You can't ensure that you're going to have decent enough working conditions, but if the conditions aren't decent enough, then we're going to have to adjust around it," Bettman said.

"This goes to show why this is kind of a reality show,” he said.

John Collins, the NHL's chief marketing officer, said the unpredictability of the weather is "part of the charm" of the outdoor event.