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Outdoor game is hot ticket

PHILADELPHIA -- After his final shift is over in the NHL's version of Old Timers' Day, former Flyers great Eric Lindros wants to stick around and catch the Winter Classic.

Can't blame him. The outdoor extravaganza has blossomed into a coveted score, with the price of admission rivaling a Super Bowl seat or Final Four trip.

Now can anyone find some tickets for Lindros to watch the Jan. 2 game between his former teams, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers?

"I've got a group of buddies and we're all going to head down and enjoy the weekend," he said. "We hope to get some tickets to the Classic game. It's a hot ticket in town."

There's not a hotter pair for any marquee event in Philadelphia.

Of course, it's never too late to buy a ticket on the secondary market.

Just be prepared to spend.

Lindros can still snag one on what will be the baseline in Citizens Park Bank for $5,000 as of Wednesday afternoon, on StubHub.com.

And critics say the NHL isn't as popular as the other Big Three sports.

It is when it's time for the NHL to leave the indoor, climate-controlled arenas and take it outside for its annual New Year's season showcase, an event that has morphed from a one-day game into a weeklong winter carnival, going on a yearly tour from classic ballparks to super-sized NFL stadiums.

Only the Phillies' bats in October are supposed to go cold at Citizens Bank Park.

That all changes Monday when the Rangers and Flyers add a chilly chapter to their heated rivalry in one of baseball's most popular stadiums.

"We look for teams, we look for matchups, we look for facilities that we think when we put them all together, people will get excited about it," NHL Commissioner Garry Bettman said.

This will be the fifth Classic, third in a baseball stadium, and second straight with HBO's "2 4/7 " cameras rolling.

The Flyers lost to the Boston Bruins two years ago at Fenway Park where the imposing Green Monster served as an imposing backdrop.

"It was one of my best hockey moments," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. "You hear the skate marks going off the ice. You hear the puck going off the glass when you miss the net. All the hockey sounds you don't get in a big-time building when the fans are right on you."

The only change this season is the date.

The Winter Classic was bumped from its traditional Jan. 1 slot to Jan. 2 so the game wouldn't conflict with a full slate of NFL games. The Eagles' stadium across the street from CBP was ruled out because of the season finale against Washington.

The Phillies were happy to host the grudge match on the site of the 2009 World Series between the Phillies and the New York Yankees.

"We probably didn't anticipate just how comprehensive the whole thing is," Phillies president David Montgomery said. "I give the NHL credit. It's quite an undertaking."

The ballpark will be bustling with sticks and pucks over the next week from legends. There is a free, three-day festival outside the CBP gates, Penn State plays Neumann University on Jan. 4 and Villanova plays Drexel the following day. The Flyers' AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, plays the Hershey Bears on Jan. 6.

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