INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA Men’s Division I Ice Hockey Committee has chosen the three sites that will host the 2004-2006 Frozen Four, and the only surprise is, there’s no surprises.
Bids were awarded to Boston (2004), Columbus, Ohio (2005), and Milwaukee (2006). They were chosen after the Division I Ice Hockey Committee — chairman Bill Wilkinson (head coach at Wayne State), Quinnipiac athletic director Jack McDonald, Northeastern athletic director Ian MaCaw and Wisconsin athletic director Pat Richter and NCAA Director of Championships Tom Jacobs — listened to presentations from eight potential cities during their annual meeting last week in Couer d’Alene, Idaho.
“The sites we selected are true hockey sites,” said Wilkinson. “The student-athletes and fans participating in the Frozen Fours at these sites will have a great opportunity to be involved in what has become an incredible event.”
Boston specifically asked for, and was awarded, the 2004 Frozen Four. The city last hosted the Frozen Four in 1998 when Michigan won the title. That year, Boston sold out all three games, and according to sources, turned a huge profit for the NCAA.
Columbus was selected to host the 2005 Frozen Four. This is Columbus’ first Frozen Four and second attempt at landing the tournament after being rejected when bids were handed out for 2000-2003.
The central-Ohio city will hold the event at the new Value City Arena at the Schottenstein Center. During Columbus’ first bid, the building — which is home to Ohio State — was not yet built and any chance at being selected was doomed. The 2005 Frozen Four will mark the first time since 1983 that the event will be held on a collegiate campus.
Milwaukee was selected to host the 2006 Frozen Four. The Wisconsin city last hosted the event in 1997 when North Dakota won the championship. Milwaukee is also an attendance champion, averaging 17,300 fans per session during the 1997 championship.
“This was my second go-round with the committee seleting future sites,” said Wilkinson. “We could have awarded everyone a site because of the quality of presentations and the bids themselves. But we only had an opportunity for three of the eight cities and it came down to a proven record of hosting college hockey events.”
Boston and Milwaukee were both expected by many to come away with a Frozen Four, but Columbus came as a surprise to some. Many people thought a less-conventional hockey city would be selected, such as St. Louis or San Jose.
“I went into the meetings with a thought as to who I would choose as the three sites,” said McDonald. “But everyone did an outstanding job with their presentations and it was tough to pick three. And the three weren’t necessarily the ones I was thinking of.”
“I’m a little surprised, but not really — it was a longshot,” said Bob Ducatte, athletic director at Rensselaer and co-host of the San Jose bid. “Giving it to non-college areas is very risky. But I was surprised that they gave it to two midwestern sites and one eastern site.”
San Jose was one of five sites that did make it to the promised land. East Rutherford, N.J., Kansas City, St. Louis and St. Paul were the other sites that were not chosen. (original story on finalists)
“We’re disappointed,” said Marc Schreiber, Director of Communications for the St. Louis Sports Commission. “We were delighted with the bid that we put together and this was an event that we really wanted for St. Louis.”
“It was definitely an uphill climb,” said Chris Roseman, Director of Event Operations for the St. Louis Sports Commission. “We only go after the best and the people of St. Louis will be disappointed when they hear the news.”
The Committee also awarded the East and West Regionals for 2004- 2006. The East Regionals will be held in Albany (Pepsi Arena) in 2004 and 2006, while the 2005 East Regional will be held in Worcester (Worcester Centrum). The West Regionals were awarded to Colorado Springs (World Arena) in 2004, Minneapolis (Mariucci Arena) in 2005 and Grand Forks (Englestad Arena) in 2006.
Other Developments In other news out of Idaho, the MAAC was awarded an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, and announced it will award the bid to its conference tournament winner. In addition, the selection committee also reverted back to the awarding of only one automatic bid to each of the other four established conferences.
In 1995, the selection committee began awarding two automatic bids to each conference, one for the regular season championship and the other for the tournament champion, as a way of rewarding the regular-season champion. If the same team won both championships, it was awarded a bye in the first round of the NCAA tournament. At all times, each of the four eligible conferences was guaranteed two slots in the 12-team field.
With this decision, there will now be five automatic qualifiers, each being the conference’s choice of its regular season or tournament champion, and seven at-large bids. Byes will be determined by ranking in the selection criteria without respect to region. In this scenario, conferences are only guaranteed one slot in the field.
The tournament selection criteria was also discussed, but, as of today, they have not changed, and are not expected to change before the selection for the 2001 tournament. There had been a lot of discussion at the annual coach’s convention in Naples, Fla. last April about altering the critera to better handle teams with weak, but insular, schedules that make it difficult for the established methods to handle. Apparently all of the ideas raised more problems than were solved, though the situation remains open to future review.
Also, the men’s ice hockey committee met with the recently-formed women’s committee to discuss strategies for expansion of both Division I tournaments. In particular, the decision to expand each tournament by four teams will be a priority.
Another item that has come under consideration is a revamping of the ticket policy for the Frozen Four. One idea is to give long-time fans a priority in obtaining tickets to the Frozen Four by establishing a pool for them and then making the tickets available to first-time applicants and/or local applicants.
“The committee plans to implement what it believes will be a more beneficial ticket distribution system for the many fans that have made this an annual event when St. Paul hosts the 2002 Men’s Frozen Four,” said Wilkinson.