INDIANAPOLIS — Welcome back.
That’s what the cities of St. Louis and Denver will be saying in 2007 and 2008, respectively, after being chosen to host those Frozen Fours. The NCAA made that announcement today following the conclusion of the Championships Cabinet meetings in Florida, accepting the men’s ice hockey committee’s early- June recommendation.
St. Louis last hosted the Frozen Four in 1975 while Denver last hosted the Frozen Four in 1976.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment for us — and of course the entire community,” said St. Louis Sports Commission president Frank Viverito. “For nearly four years, we’ve been working to bring the Frozen Four to St. Louis because of how special it would be to our region.
“The excitement and electricity generated by the event resembles what we’ve experienced hosting other major NCAA championships. For a town that loves its hockey and always rises to the occasion to embrace the events that come here, the Frozen Four is a great match.”
“They sold us that the city embraces college hockey and that they would provide an excellent atmosphere,” said incoming ice hockey committee chairman Ron Grahame. “The proximity of an institution didn’t play into it. The experience that they presented and the job that they would do and it really felt that the folks in St. Louis were behind the Frozen Four and behind putting on a first class event. That there wasn’t a school wasn’t a factor, their presentation and enthusiasm they showed was what sold the committee.”
Viverito figured St. Louis was still a longshot, even though it had been a finalist in the past.
“We entered this process as a long-shot — mostly because of geography and the fact there’s no Division I team in St. Louis, but we did our best to turn that into a positive and drive home the point that St. Louis offers college hockey an opportunity to expand its reach. By bringing the Frozen Four to St. Louis, the game can cultivate a fan base in a region that has been relatively untapped at the college level.”
For Denver, it was all about returning to the roots.
“It’s all about the history of college hockey,” Jon Schmeider, Executive Director of the Metro Denver Sports Commission. “The history in Colorado Springs, where the Frozen Four began, and not to mention Colorado College and the University of Denver being in our backyard, it made perfect sense to put it together.”
The two sites were chosen after an intense process that began with 12 teams submitting bids in early May. Those 12 were whittled down to five in early May and the five left were asked to make a presentation to the Ice Hockey Committee the first week of June.
The committee then debated and recommended St. Louis and Denver, which the Championships Cabinet approved this past week.
There had been a lot of talk about the process and whether or not “traditional” or “non-traditional” sites would play a part in the process. In 2000 then-committee chair Bill Wilkinson said that the sites chosen for 2004-2006 were selected because they were traditional sites. This time around, there was talk about that.
“There was a lot of talk about traditional vs. non-traditional on the front end in whittling it down from 12 teams to five teams,” said present chair Ian McCaw. “Then there certainly was discussion amongst the committee about that when it came down to the final five teams.
“We recognize that St. Louis and Denver are great hockey cities. It’s very important for the committee to consider the non- traditional locations because that’s what promotes growth and that’s what been foremost in our minds.”
A lot of people were surprised that St. Paul did not get one of the Frozen Fours, especially after a very successful 2002 Frozen Four.
“There was a tremendous amount of discussion on that issue,” said McCaw. “St. Paul was successful and the committee felt strongly that we wanted to be open-minded on other sites and cities. There’s also a strong feeling on that we wanted to return to those cities and St. Paul is one of those.”
Detroit failed in its bid to get the Frozen Four back and Philadelphia failed in its first attempt. The committee hopes that the cities will be back for the next bid cycle, which will occur in 2005 and at that time the 2009-2011 Frozen Fours will be awarded.
Also decided were the regional sites until 2007. There were regional openings in 2005 and 2006 due to the expansion of the Tournament, while the 2008 regionals have not been awarded yet. Some sites will be repeat hosters while others, like the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis., will host regionals for the first time.
The 2007 Regional sites, which includes three buildings that have never hosted the event, is notable for being the first time all four regionals will be at a neutral site. Green Bay (hosted by Michigan Tech) and Rochester, N.Y. (hosted by the ECAC), will be entirely new, while Manchester, N.H., will also host in 2004.
The neutral site issue has been at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds over the last few years and has been a hot topic of debate amongst fans, coaches and officials.
“We certainly heard the coaches on this one and the feedback that there was opportunities to move to neutral sites and thereby have a better opportunity for teams to advance to the Frozen Four,” said McCaw.
Also of note is that a regional, for the first time, will be in an NHL arena, when the Pepsi Center hosts in 2007.
“This is the first time that we’ve made that departure to go to an NHL building in an NHL arena and we’re confident that it will do well,” said McCaw. “It’s a new step for the committee.”
With the move of the Frozen Four to large cities with NHL-size arenas, it seems that the competition has gotten tougher for regionals and where some of the action might be for bidding in the next cycle.
Future Frozen Four Sites
New selections from this announcement in bold.
East Regional – Pepsi Arena (Albany, N.Y, March 27-28)
Northeast Regional – Verizon Wireless Arena (Manchester, N.H., March 26-27)
Midwest Regional – Van Andel Arena (Grand Rapids, Mich., March 27-28)
West Regional – Colorado Springs World Arena (Colorado Springs, Colo., Mar. 26-27)
Frozen Four – FleetCenter (Boston, April 8 and 10)
East Regional – Centrum Centre (Worcester, Mass., March 25-26)
Northeast – Mullins Center (Amherst, Mass., March 26-27)
Midwest Regional – Van Andel Arena (Grand Rapids, Mich., March 25-26)
West Regional – Mariucci Arena (Minneapolis, March 26-27)
Frozen Four – Value City Arena (Columbus, Ohio, April 7 and 9)
East Regional – Pepsi Arena (Albany, N.Y., March 25-26)
Northeast Regional – Centrum Centre (Worcester, Mass., March 24-25)
Midwest Regional – Resch Center (Green Bay, Wis., March 25-26)
West Regional – Engelstad Arena (Grand Forks, N.D., March 24-25)
Frozen Four – Bradley Center (Milwaukee, April 6 and 8)
East Regional – Blue Cross Arena (Rochester, N.Y., March 23-25)
Northeast Regional – Verizon Wireless Arena (Manchester, N.H., March 23-25)
Midwest Regional – Van Andel Arena (Grand Rapids, Mich., March 23-25)
West Regional – Pepsi Center (Denver, March 23-25)
Frozen Four — Savvis Center (St. Louis, April 5 and 7)
East Regional – TBA (March 28-30)
Northeast Regional – TBA (March 28-30)
Midwest Regional – TBA (March 28-30)
West Regional – TBA (March 28-30)
Frozen Four — Pepsi Center (Denver, April 10 and 12)
[Continue to check back with USCHO for more information.]