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The "Yankee Bowl" improves odds for Pittsburgh to host 2011 Winter Classic

Pittsburgh is in the running to host the 2011 Winter Classic, with the thought being that PNC Park, with it's visually appealing backdrop of the cityscape being the first choice.  Another reason why: the NHL has to setup and perfect the ice on the impromptu rink -- a process that can take weeks.  The Pittsburgh Steelers season didn't end until January 3rd last season, and there's the possibility of playoffs too.  The Pirates never need the fieldd anytime after September, and that's a lock!

Another heavily rumored site for the NHL's Winter Classic has been spanking new Yankee Stadium.  They're hosting boxing matches there and with decent success at Chicago's Wrigley Field and Boston's Fenway Park, it's only natural the NHL would look to complete the trifecta of baseball stadiums with the obligatory stop in the Bronx.

Not so fast my friend.

The  new college football bowl game to be held at Yankee Stadium starting in 2010 will be called the Pinstripe Bowl, with New Era as the title sponsor.

Last September, the Yankees announced the bowl game that will feature teams from the Big East and Big 12 conferences. The leagues have a four-year agreement in place, as does New Era.

A quick scan of the Yankees website says the game is expected to be played "sometime in between Christmas Day [Dec 25th] and New Years", which would leave only hours for a turnaround to a January 1st hockey game.  That just doesn't seem very likely, even for the NHL's awesome ice crew, to be able to make a quality and safe sheet of ice even under the most ideal of circumstances.  Which in winter, in New York, you might not have in the first place.

So call it a hunch, but for as long as Yankee Stadium has a bowl game (at least four years), they will not be able to host the Winter Classic.

There are still a ton of other sites with interest in the WC, including probably several other spots in the Greater NY/NJ area that could pull the event off, but with one marquee venue out of the running, the odds have to get a little bit better for the Pittsburgh Penguins to host hockey's biggest regular season game.