(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images. Photo illustration: Mike Bojanowski)
The NBA, Major League Baseball, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bulls are proud to announce today that the first NBA Winter Jam will take place on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2011, at Wrigley Field, with an outdoor game between the Bulls and the Miami Heat.
Wrigley was chosen because of its iconic status as one of the oldest and most beloved stadiums in America, and because in addition to baseball, it has hosted NFL and college football games and the 2009 NHL Winter Classic. The matchup between the Bulls and Heat will feature Chicago natives Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, and is likely to be the most anticipated game of the 2011-12 NBA season.
In addition to the game, tentatively scheduled for a 12 noon (CST) start and a national telecast on ABC, there will be a halftime concert by Justin Bieber with special guest Miley Cyrus, and the Clippers' Blake Griffin will attempt a dunk with a basketball dropped by the Blue Angels from one of their F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.
There will be some special rules for this special game; more after the jump.
Because of the risk of players running into the heavily-padded walls, the game will be played half-court; when a rebound is made of a missed shot, or after a basket is made, play will be stopped and the ball inbounded at halfcourt. There will be some allowances for the weather; the average high in Chicago on Dec. 25 is 34 degrees. Players will wear long sleeves and some kind of form-fitting pants under their shorts to keep their mobility, and stocking caps with white tassels will be worn in honor of Christmas. The Bulls, in particular, with their red and white color scheme, will have no problem finding Santa-type hats to wear. Special care will be taken by team trainers and the grounds crew in the case of crying players; those might freeze up and cause slippery spots on the court.
Tickets will range from $10 (in the left-field bleachers, in honor of Ron Santo and former Bulls great Bob Love) to $2500 for courtside seats on the field. In order to qualify for a special drawing for a chance to buy tickets that are not allocated to Bulls or Cubs season ticket holders, fans must purchase tickets to four of the following six Cubs early-season games: April 4, 5 or 6 vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks; April 19 or 20 vs. the San Diego Padres; or April 27 vs. the Colorado Rockies.
Fans will not be allowed to keep basketballs that go into the stands, although that appears to be unlikely given the configuration of the court. Cubs "Ambassadors", dressed in Bulls' red instead of Cubs' blue, will roam the stands making sure any stray balls are returned... and also want to remind you to check today's calendar.