Rangers reportedly eyed for Yankee Stadium game

Updated: March 10, 2008, 9:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

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The NHL and the Yankees are continuing their work toward a deal that would call for the Rangers to play host to a 2008-09 regular-season game before Yankee Stadium is shuttered for good, the New York Daily News reported in Monday's editions.

"It's something we've spoken both to the Yankees and to the city about," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the newspaper, "but it's not a done deal. There are still other possibilities and a lot of moving pieces."

Yankee Stadium opened in 1923. Construction on the Yankees' new park began in 2006 at a cost of more than $1 billion. The new stadium -- the site is adjacent to the current edifice -- will open in 2009.

It seems clear that the NHL is intent on capitalizing on the incredibly popular Winter Classic in Buffalo, played on New Year's Day before a crowd of more than 71,000 at snowy Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The first regular-season outdoor NHL game in the United States, between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins, drew a 2.6 overnight rating and a 5 share on NBC, the best numbers since a six-game regional NHL telecast on Fox in February 1996. The Winter Classic ratings also surpassed those for Wayne Gretzky's final game on April 18, 1999.

Pittsburgh beat Buffalo 2-1 in a shootout on a Sidney Crosby goal.

Neither a date nor a Rangers opponent for the potential Yankee Stadium game has been determined, the Daily News said. To generate maximum interest, the paper said the league and the network would prefer an Original Six foe for New York.

According to the Daily News, the Yankees have been reluctant to embrace hockey at the stadium for fear that the playing surface would be damaged by refrigeration pipes needed to build a temporary rink. Their new park has quashed that concern.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also said recently that an outdoor game in Chicago, possibly at Wrigley Field, "would make a lot of sense."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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