PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Popping champagne on New Years Eve is traditional, but watch for it to continue on New Years Day.
The Penguins face off against the Washington Capitals outdoors in front of 67,000 spectators in the fourth annual Winter Classic.
Hotels, restaurants, bars, apparel and souvenir shops all expect to cash in too.
It’s hard to miss the Reebok apparel and souvenirs the Winter Classic has engendered. Dick’s opened a special store in the Strip District to handle demand just in time for Christmas.
“Doing a little Christmas shopping for the Winter Classic,” says Steve Stiller of West Deer. “I guess that’s what you gotta do, get the gear you can before it’s all gone.”
And you don’t need a ticket to the Classic to spend money.
“It is the Winter Classic so makes it little more of a novelty,” notes Josh Endley of Industry.
Store manager Chuck Miller says everyone is spending money on the Classic. The most popular items?
“Sidney Crosby anything usually, jerseys, t-shirts. I would say the hats in particular. It’s pretty cold out there.”
And the winter classic will be an economic boon to Pittsburgh, predicts VisitPittsburgh.
“We have an economic impact calculated conservatively at $22.3 million,” VisitPittsburgh’s Craig Davis told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano.
“It’s a very big amount for one event. It encompasses about 66,000 people coming in of which 30,000 will be from out of town,” says Davis.
In fact, the Classic will generate more money than a local NFL playoff game featuring the Steelers.
Restaurants like the upscale Hyde Park Steakhouse on the North Shore are normally closed on New Years Day, but not this year.
“We’re going to open early at 11 a.m.,” says Heather Percell, Hyde Park’s manager. “We’re going to seat until 10 o’clock at night. It’s going to be very busy. It’s going to be a great day for everybody.”
On the menu, fans can choose a steak Fleury, steak Crosby, or steak Malkin.
But getting a hotel room is getting tough. The brand new Hyatt Place closest to Heinz Field is booked even at $449 a night.
“It means everything to be right here next to Heinz Field, to be a part of the atmosphere that goes on down here,” says Chris Chesebrough, general manager of the hotel.
The atmosphere ought to be a great one both on New Years Eve and New Years Day.
Nobody would be surprised if the overall economic value of the event hit $30 million, including more than $2 million in taxes.
And, of course, Pittsburgh will be in the national spotlight once again. That’s worth something, too.