NEW YORK -- Among the thousands of Mets fans at Citi Field on Tuesday night, more than a few whipped out their phones at various junctures to check the score of the New York Rangers' playoff game. This January, fans at Citi Field won't have to choose. The team announced Tuesday that it will host the NHL Winter Classic between the Rangers and Buffalo Sabres on New Year's Day.
"The Winter Classic made its debut under snowy Buffalo skies in 2008, and we look forward to celebrating the 10th anniversary of that landmark event by matching the Sabres with their intrastate rivals, the New York Rangers," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "With New York City as its host, the renewal of our New Year's tradition will continue to inspire hockey memories for our clubs, our players and our fans."
Since 2008, the NHL has hosted at least one regular-season outdoor game each year. Next January's Winter Classic will be the sixth at a baseball stadium, following events at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park and Busch Stadium.
But it will hardly be the first non-baseball event at Citi Field, which has hosted sold-out concerts by Beyonce, Dave Matthews Band, Paul McCartney and the Zac Brown Band, as well as soccer matches between European clubs and national teams. The venue's next challenge will be constructing an outdoor hockey rink.
"We are thrilled and excited," Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. "We look forward to providing the hockey fans in our city and state a unique setting to experience this marquee match-up and adding it to the list of unique events we have been able to bring to the ballpark.
The NHL Network and NHL.com plan to provide extensive coverage live from the event, both leading up to and after the game.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.