GREEN BAY, Wis. — Michigan Tech can’t host an NCAA regional at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena — for one, the building is too small. That won’t stop the Houghton, Mich., school from trying to get in on the process anyway, about 200 miles to the south.
Tech athletics director Rick Yeo announced Tuesday the school, in partnership with PMI, the management company in charge of Green Bay’s new 8,800-seat Resch Center, has submitted a bid to host the newly formed Midwest Regional for the 2003 and 2004 national tournaments.
“We feel it would be great exposure for Michigan Tech,” Yeo said. “Getting into a venture like this, we feel that it’s really got to be done first class, and we’ll put in all the time that’s necessary to make it a first-class event.”
Said Tech coach Mike Sertich: “You couldn’t put a dollar value on it as far as advertising. Any time you can host and sponsor an NCAA event, you’re going to get a whole lot of exposure that’s very difficult to get.”
Michigan Tech’s desire to host a regional met with perfect timing. With expansion to a 16-team Division I tournament in the forecast for the 2002-03 season, the regional format will be changed from a two-site system to a four-site system.
The NCAA men’s ice hockey committee is meeting through Thursday in San Francisco, with the need to select two additional regional sites.
Tech officials indicated their competition in the running for the Midwest bid includes the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., and, for the 2004 regional, Yost Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. Yost is scheduled to host the West Regional in the 2003 tournament.
Officials at St. Cloud State confirmed their school submitted a bid to host at the National Hockey Center, as did Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., and Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.
PMI and Michigan Tech representatives said one of the tenets of their bid proposal was that the regional would be played at a neutral site. Michigan advanced to last season’s Frozen Four with two victories on home ice.
“A site like this, you’re avoiding that and it’s fair to everybody,” Yeo said. “We’re trying to stress that.”
The partnership between PMI and Michigan Tech started with discussions about a WCHA game for the Resch Center in the upcoming season. Plans for that game were confirmed Tuesday — the Huskies will host Wisconsin on Saturday, March 1 in Green Bay.
It will be Tech’s first game in Green Bay since a series against Illinois-Chicago in 1989. Wisconsin hasn’t played in Green Bay since losing to Colorado College in 1967.
As it turns out, those talks were the catalyst for an effort to bring a big event like the regionals to northeastern Wisconsin. PMI was in the market for showcase events for the first year of the Resch Center, whose main tenants will be the United States Hockey League’s Green Bay Gamblers and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men’s basketball team.
“One of the things that’s a plus for us is it would be a major attraction in this town,” said Ken Wachter, PMI’s chief operating officer. “If it’s in Madison and Wisconsin’s not in, it’s not as great an event as it is for us. We think we could make it a major event, and that was our pitch to (the NCAA).”