Monday, January 3, 2011

PITTSBURGH'S WINTER CLASSIC A SUBJECT OF "MIXED REVIEWS"

While doing some research on this past weekend's much anticipated "Winter Classic", this writer came up with some interesting nuggets for "P.B. & G." readers to gnaw on.

We'll call them "Winners" and "Losers".

WINNER: The Winter Classic was the most heavily-viewed regular season hockey game since 1936 (or basically the entire history of television). The game had 4.56 million viewers. While CBS and Fox had more viewers, NBC led in the all-important young viewers category. NBC was the winner with a 1.8 rating and a 5 share.

LOSER: The production by NBC was panned by many viewers as being very distracting and in many cases was called "nearly unwatchable". While I wouldn't go that far, the overhead shots were at times "disorienting". At one point, one of the games' scores was missed while NBC was using a flyover shot high above Heinz Field.

WINNER: The atmosphere at Heinz Field was considered "electric".

ABOVE: Heinz Field, magically transformed into an outdoor rink by the NHL.

LOSER: Penguin fans are regarded as "whiners, just like their captain".

WINNER: The extended time before the start of the game caused another meal or two to be purchased in the city by the fans. This no doubt increased the original revenue estimate much higher than the earlier reported $22 million that was expected to be spent in the city. If 40,000 of the fans spent another $25 on food, this would have generated another $1,000,000 in food sales alone. Many fans no doubt had to spring for an extra night in their hotel as well. Ten thousand rooms at $100 would generate another $1 million in hotel revenue. The bar tab increase probably dwarfs the food and hotel figures  (at least another $1.5 million) which brings the estimated overage to $3.5 million or a new total of $25.5 million.

LOSER: The NBC announcers were panned as being "pro Pittsburgh" and Mike Milbury drew the ire of all Capitals fans for calling Crosby, "The face of the NHL" while then referring to Washington's Ovechkin as, "The bad boy of the NHL."

WINNER: Caps referred to as "Craps" by Penguins fans.

LOSER: Penguins referred to as "Pigeons" by "Craps" fans.

WINNER: The old timers game will no doubt become a regular part of the Winter Classic festivities.

LOSER: The old timers game was only two periods long and the tie was not broken via a shootout. There was only one gate open to check in 10,000 fans. This caused a two hour backlog of fans waiting to get in, many of whom missed the opening faceoff. This game could have easily sold 50,000 tickets. Why was the planning for this game so short-sighted?

WINNER: The Robert Morris/R.I.T and Baby Penguins/Hershey Bears games were another good addition to the overall hockey presence in the city.

LOSER: Not only did the Penguins lose, they also failed to retaliate for the blatant cheap shot that leveled Sidney Crosby as time ran out at the end of the second period. What were these guys thinking?

ABOVE: Winner Sidney Crosby, Loser and cheap-shot artist, David Steckel. Okay, on this night Crosby lost and Steckel won, but Steckel is still a "loser" nevertheless.

WINNER: These two teams will be headed for each other in the playoffs like two runaway locomotives. The NHL will continue to be fortunate for this ever-growing rivalry.

LOSER: Anybody who missed seeing this game. Sure, we were all disappointed by the outcome, but this game was played with the same intensity as a playoff game. It was a great representation of the NHL product despite the choppy ice and the many bouncing pucks. It was one of the biggest sporting events ever held in this city.

WINNER: The City of Pittsburgh once again looked great and certainly put its' best foot forward. Pittsburgh is certainly making itself into a destination city.