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Philadelphia Still Front-Runner For 2012 Winter Classic; Flyers Could Host New York Rangers

There have been several reports over the last few months about the City of Philadelphia and their status as the front-runner for the 2012 Winter Classic, and now we have yet another one of those reports that

Darren Dreger of TSN, who's as plugged in on this type of thing as anybody in the business, reports Thursday that the Flyers are still considered the front-runner to land next year's version of the event. They're likely to host the New York Rangers, and there's no doubt why: TV ratings and money, quite simply.

The only question is which Philadelphia venue would host the event.

Via Dreger:

The NHL hasn't officially signed off on the location, largely because of building availability in Philadelphia. The NHL would love to host the outdoor game at Lincoln Financial Field, but the NFL's schedule is making the football stadium virtually impossible, so Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, will likely be the venue of choice.

As evidenced by last year's Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, the NHL definitely prefers the football stadium layout to the baseball stadium layout, unless of course that baseball stadium is an iconic venue like Wrigley Field of Fenway Park. You know, a place they can sell.

For all it's fantastic qualities, Citizens Bank Park doesn't stack up in that category. (It's not even in the same ballpark! /bad pun). Also, sight lines are tougher in a baseball stadium, even if the setting is more intimate, and you can clearly cram more people, and thus get more money out of, a football stadium.

New Year's Day 2012 falls on a Sunday, so if there's NFL football this year, it's obviously going to be tough to play in a football stadium, and the NHL might be wise to play the game on another day -- perhaps January 2 or New Year's Eve -- to avoid the conflict with the ratings juggernaut that is the NFL.

The Eagles have a home game scheduled for January 1, and even if that game isn't played thanks to the NFL lockout, there won't be a hockey game played in that building on the same day if only for logistical reasons.

But more and more, it's looking like it'll be Flyers vs. Rangers, outside at Citizens Bank Park sometime around the New Year. We'll know sooner rather than later, too. The NHL schedule comes out in late June.