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Warm temps in forecast for Winter Classic

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Warm temperatures and rain in the New Year's Day forecast for Pittsburgh may delay the NHL's Winter Classic outdoor game, officials said Wednesday.

Brian Jennings, the NHL's executive vice president of marketing and communications, said the league will do whatever it can to make sure the game, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Heinz Field, comes off as scheduled.

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"We're hoping. We're going to make every effort" to play the game Saturday, Jennings told The Wall Street Journal, but adding it probably wouldn't hurt marketing efforts much if the contest were delayed until Saturday night or even Sunday.

A delay, however, could seriously disrupt the accommodations of 30,000 out-of-state fans attending the event.

Forecasters have called for a "thaw" with temperatures in the 50s and rain, perhaps rendering the temporary outdoor rink built by the NHL unplayable for the much-anticipated match-up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals.

"True hockey fans will deal with a delay if that has to happen," Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl told the Journal, adding "visitors will perhaps have more time to take in the recreational opportunities and beauty of our city."

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