SOUTH BEND — More than 50 workers worked through the cold and gloom late Saturday finishing up the colorful logos on the ice rink that will serve as the stage for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Notre Dame Stadium.
Banners already were hanging throughout the iconic football stadium for the matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins — two of the original six members of the professional hockey league. The scoreboards were up and running.
Despite the time of year, the stadium had a level of activity that seemed excessive for even a football weekend — security at the gates and a throng of workers and vehicles moving in, out and around the facility.
Parking lots at the stadium are expected to begin filling after 7 a.m. Tuesday for fans who plan to tailgate no matter the weather conditions, and gates to the stadium will open at 11 a.m. for the first-ever hockey game inside the venue.
Energy has been building over the past couple of weeks since Mike Craig, NHL senior manager of facility operations, and his ice crew began work building the ice rink and making other preparations. They were joined by more NHL personnel and then fans and media started descending upon South Bend.
Winter Classic banners and other promotional materials have gone up in downtown and in area hotels, bringing a festive feel to the city.