A news conference was held Wednesday at the 50-yard line at Soldier Field in Chicago. To talk about hockey.
That's right, hockey. College hockey.
On Feb. 17, a college hockey double-header will be played there. The basics have long been known. The Gophers will play Wisconsin in one game, giving up a home game at Kohl Center. It will be the last time the two meet in a WCHA regular-season game.
Both will be in the new Big Ten Conference the following season.
Notre Dame and Miami, two CCHA teams, will meet in the other game.
Times and the order of games will be released at a later date.
This will be the first outdoor game in the modern college hockey era for the Gophers, Notre Dame and Miami. Wisconsin has played in several.
So what was this news conference for? A little early hype. Heard Chicago media was out in force. It will be first outdoor hockey game at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.
Two weeks of winter festivities will precede the twinbill, dubbed the Hockey City Classic:
* two days of public skating
* youth, high school and adult hockey events
* private ice rentals
To keep track of everything, there are several places to go:
on web: www.hockeycityclassic.com
on facebook: www.Facebook.com/HockeyCityClassic
on twitter: @HkyCityClassic ... this went live Wednesday
Intersport, a Chicago-based sports and entertainment marketing agency, is organizing the classic in partnership with Soldier Field and the Chicago Park District.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY
From a news release by event organizers sent out Wednesday:
Gophers coach Don Lucia: "It is something that I have always wanted to do and I think it will be exciting."
You may remember Lucia was hoping the Gophers-Notre Dame game in early January last season would be held at TCF Bank Stadium. U administrators, fearful of costs for snow removal, etc., nixed the idea.
"Soldier Field has great history," Lucia said, "and this is a wonderful opportunity for the University of Minnesota to play in its first recent outdoor hockey game. It should be a terrific experience for all involved. Playing Wisconsin, one of our big rivals, will only add to the experience and make it extra special."
Wisconsin's Mike Eaves: "We've experienced these types of games i the past and they create memories that the student-athletes will be able to tell their grandkids about some day."
Notre Dame's Jeff Jackson: "With so many Irish fans, alumni and current players hailing from the Windy City, it will be a homecoming of sorts."
Miami's Enrico Blasi: "This is a great opportunity for us to play in such a historic stadium in a city with a lot of both Miami University and Miami Hockey alumni."
The Big Ten Network, which could wind up broadcasting the Gophers-Badgers game, interviewed Gophers forward Zach Budish at Soldier Field. He was there as the lone player representative for his team. To hear Budish, click here.
Budish said the team has always wanted to play an outdoor game. He was impressed with Soldier Field. It will be a spotlight game. He hopes the Big Ten Conference can grow. ...
Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Oct. 1.
Season-tickets holders at the four participating teams and of the Chicago Bears will be able to buy tickets before that in an exclusive presale.
* By the way, people at the Gophers ticket office say there are some season tickets still left for the 2012-13 season -- the last for the U of M in the WCHA. That's a bit surprising to me considering the lofty expectations for this season's team -- they are No. 1 in one early preseason rating -- and the great home schedule with North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth and Denver all coming and NCAA champion Boston College in the Mariucci Classic.