Warm-up to the 2011 Winter Classic on HBO Sports

HBO Sports to debut "24/7 Penguins vs Capitals Road to the 2011 Winter Classic" tonight (Photo Courtesy: winterclassic2011.com)

The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals is still a few weeks away, but HBO Sports will whet the appetite of fans with their critically acclaimed 24/7 series debuting tonight. The award-winning 24/7 series has delved deep into the lives of Boxers preparing for title fights and NASCAR drivers chasing championships, but this is the first time they will venture into the NHL.

This years Classic will feature two of the brightest young stars of the game, Sydney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. The four-week, all-access series follows the two teams as they meet twice in a span of nine days, culminating outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on New Years Day.

The annual outdoor game has become a huge success for the NHL and they are right to be  milking it for every ounce of publicity they can. Crosby and Ovechkin featured on the cover of Vanity Fair, check. Food Network stars creating “Winter Classic themed recipes”, check. Billboard in Times Square, Crosby and Ovechkin guest hosting the Price is Right Check…Check! 

The extra publicity has paid off, according to Fred Dreier of Sports Business Daily , sponsorship revenue for the Jan. 1 game ”has increased 20 percent from 2010 numbers, putting total revenue for the event in the mid-seven-figure range”.

This is the 4th season the NHL has held the outdoor game, starting out at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008, then moving on to iconic Wrigley Field & Fenway Park in ’09 and ’10. This years game will be played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

TheNHL’s first outdoor game took place in Las Vegas on September 27, 1991. The game featured the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers in a a pre-season match-up. A temporary ice rink was constructed in the parking lot of Caesars’ Palace.

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Brian Clapp is the founder of SportsTVJobs.com, the richest online resource for aspiring sports broadcasting professionals. Before launching Sports TV Jobs Brian worked for multiple sports networks as a Writer, Producer, Video Editor and News Director. Everyone knew he was destined for a career in sports when he started sneaking out of bed to watch Celtics games when he was seven. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn Read 76 articles by
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