NHL gives Yankee Stadium a look-see

Friday, February 13th 2009, 2:31 AM

Huh/AP

NHL's Winter Classic may take place at the new Yankee Stadium next season.

Pitchers and catchers report to Yankee camp in Tampa today, but up in the Bronx, they've got hockey on the brain.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman paid a visit to the new Yankee Stadium Thursday at the invitation of the Yankees - which could turn out to be the first baby step toward bringing the 2010 Winter Classic to the Bronx.

"Obviously that's the reason they invited us," Bettman said on Sirius XM radio's "The NHL Hour" Thursday after touring the Stadium on a 50-degree February day. "But this was extremely preliminary. To suggest we're even at the embryonic stage would be an exaggeration."

Up until last summer, the old Stadium was considered the front-runner to host the New Year's Day outdoor game, which would have been the final sporting event at the House that Ruth Built. But myriad logistical stumbling blocks knocked the old ballpark out of the running, and the game wound up at Wrigley Field between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.

Once the old Stadium was ruled out, Bettman, Yankee brass and Mayor Bloomberg agreed to revisit the possibility for 2010, and the new Stadium is among the leading contenders to host a game next Jan. 1 involving the Rangers.

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