The chairman of the Division III men’s ice hockey committee hopes the tournament will get better exposure when it’s played at a predetermined site in 2006, and the committee is looking for facilities that can seat between 3,000 and 4,000 spectators.
“The hope is that by putting it in a larger venue and giving that venue an opportunity to go out and do the marketing and the advertising, that attendance would go up,” said Russell Reilly, athletics director at Middlebury. “I think from an institutional perspective it just will be a whole lot easier if someone has a whole year or so to prepare to put on an event rather than having just a week to put it on.”
The semifinals and finals be played at a predetermined site beginning with the 2006 tournament. Currently, the final two rounds are played on a campus site that’s not set until the final four teams are determined.
Reilly said the committee should began reviewing bids later this year.
“I hope we will find at least one suitable venue both in the East and the West so that the committee has a couple of good choices once we sit down and decide how we want to move forward beginning in 2006,” he said.
Finding a place in the West appeals to another member of the committee, St. Norbert athletics director Donald Maslinski.
He said because there are more Division III teams on the East Coast, championships are usually held in that part of the country. The event has not been held outside of the Northeast since 2000, when it was played at Wisconsin-Superior.
“It gets old being the only people who get on an airplane and fly,” said Maslinski. “If it’s in Minneapolis or Green Bay, teams and players and fans of the participating schools will be able to see it.”
Maslinski said when the championship was conducted at Norwich in Vermont last year, St. Norbert was the only West region team in the semifinals. The team had only about 100 fans present. He said had the championship been within driving distance of his school in Wisconsin, St. Norbert would have had a couple of thousand fans present.
“To fly to Burlington, Vermont, it’s not your run-of-the-mill, get a flight from Southwest for $90 bucks … kind of deal,” he said. “It’s a $500, $600 kind of flight. That really gets very difficult for some people to pull off.”
The last time the tournament was held at a predetermined site was 1993 when Wisconsin-Stevens Point won at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood, Minn.