NHL prepares for 2015 Winter Classic

WASHINGTON — The lines and logos are on the ice. In just a few days, the 2015 Winter Classic will be played Jan. 1 at Nationals Park in Southeast.

The transformation began Dec. 15 when the National Hockey League cooled the baseball field with a refrigeration truck, changing the Nats’ ballpark to the temporary home of the Washington Capitals, which plays the Chicago Blackhawks in the Classic game.

The entire transformation usually takes 10 to 15 days; in years past, the NHL had to make the switchover happen in as few as five days.

NHL officials are keeping an eye on the weather.

Spokesman Jamey Horan described the perfect environment for an outdoor hockey game as, “something along the lines of an overcast day so the sun isn’t a factor,” he says. “Thirties, forties are fine so the crowd is comfortable but feels like winter.”

Horan also noted that the sun goes by Nationals Park rather early in the day, so that will reduce the impact it will have on the ice.  However, there is a chance for rain a couple of days leading into Thursday.

“I’m not a physics expert, but what I’ve learned from our ice making crew is that they turn the rain into ice,” explained Horan.

The rink has a refrigeration floor set to 22 degrees, which keeps the ice frozen.  Any water that contacts it will freeze, unless it is a very heavy rain.

The game has already sold out, but some third-party ticket sites have standing room only tickets on sale for at least $200.

If you still want to get the Winter Classic experience, Spectator Plaza will open to fans the morning of the game at 9 a.m.  The fan fest will take place at the Fairgrounds and will feature live music, interactive attractions, food and beverages, retail tents and plenty more.

Spectator Plaza is free and open to the public.

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