Let the Bidding Begin

Posted by: realet

It’s a little early, but we’re approaching the next round of Frozen Four bids in the near future. Bids will officially be taken this fall for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Frozen Fours, and will be announced in spring or summer 2010.

To date, the only four cities which have officially announced as preparing to bid are Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., and Omaha, Neb.

The traditional selection criteria are as follows:

  • Facility Requirements and Needs (Seating Capacities, etc.)
  • Locker Room Space
  • Media Facilities
  • Hotel Facilities
  • Headquarters Hotel
  • Media Hotel
  • Officials Accommodations
  • Team Accommodations
  • Fan Accommodations
  • Financial Projections
  • Ticket Prices
  • Projected Ticket Sales

So here’s a somewhat exhaustive primer for the 2010 round.  I’ve included most of the cities that bid in 2000 (which awarded Frozen Fours to Boston, Columbus, and Milwaukee), 2003 (St. Louis and Denver), and 2005 (Washington, Detroit, St. Paul, and Tampa), along with some words on recent host cities.

The “Big Hockey City” Picks

New York – Madison Square Garden is an oft-rumored venue for the Frozen Four, but despite the fact that six different locations in Upstate New York have hosted the event, it still has never come to the Crossroads of the World. Quinnipiac and Atlantic Hockey were rumored to be putting together a bid in 2003, but nothing ever materialized. If MSG puts forward a bid, it’ll almost certainly get very close consideration – there are few cities in the world, let alone in the hockey-playing United States, that can compare with NYC, and few hockey meccas left out there that compare with MSG. On top of that, a recent BU-Cornell game there sold out, leading to a rematch there next season. Even if MSG doesn’t put a bid forward, there are still viable options across the Hudson in the Izod Center at the Meadowlands (which bid in 2000 and made the short list) or the Devils’ new digs at Prudential Center in Newark.

Pittsburgh – Robert Morris is backing a bid for the Frozen Four from the replacement for “The Igloo,” Consol Energy Arena, which will be the Penguins’ new building starting in the 2010-11 season. With the trend toward NHL arenas (by 2012, 7 of 10 Frozen Fours will have been in pro buildings), a local college hockey team with neighbors, plus a number of regular-season college hockey games taking place already at Mellon Arena in the recent past and near future, a strong support for the sport in the area, and a state-of-the-art brand new building to boot, and the Pittsburgh bid will look very, very strong indeed. The one drawback could be the fact that the building won’t be finished by the time the bids are decided upon, a fact which has caused problems for other bids in the past.

Philadelphia – The soon-to-be-yet-again-renamed Wachovia Center failed to earn a bid in both 2003 and 2005 despite making the short-list both times. Hotel accommodations near the stadium were a tripping point, but this should be resolved by the middle of the next decade thanks to a new hotel being planned at the current location of the old Spectrum across the street. This time, the building would have to face competition from Pittsburgh, which would be a tough sell. There’s practically no chance that the NCAA would hold two Frozen Fours in three years in the same state when there’s never been even one there.

 

The Recent Hosts

Buffalo – HSBC Arena has the benefit of being a modern NHL arena and being close to the Canadian hotbed of Southern Ontario. I don’t know how well received the city was in 2003, but Buffalo and HSBC Arena are probably interested in hosting again if their bid in 2005 is any indication. They weren’t shortlisted, probably because it was considered to be too soon. Anything prior to 2015 is probably still too soon.

Boston – The biggest shock of the last round of Frozen Four bids was that despite the unexpected decision to award the 2012 Frozen Four in addition to the planned awards for 2009-11, Boston was not among the cities chosen to host. At the time, the popular sentiment was that Boston might as well already be penciled in for 2013, and there hasn’t been anything in the last four years that would lead a person to presume that this has changed at all. Boston could submit a bid written in crayon comprised of nothing but “we want to host the Frozen Four” and they’d probably still be the favorites for 2013. The bottom line here is that if TD Garden submits a bid, they are practically assured to host by 2014 at the very latest.

Columbus – Maybe this is just me, but perhaps Nationwide Arena would be a better choice for Columbus down the road if they seek to host the Frozen Four again, which they probably will given that they submitted a bid for 2005, but like Buffalo, they were too soon then and probably would still be too soon this time. The relatively nearby bid of Pittsburgh could be tough to overcome, too.

Milwaukee – The Bradley Center has hosted the Frozen Four three times successfully and probably will get another crack at it in the near future, but they’d have better luck waiting until next time. The building did host its first two Frozen Fours just four years apart, but that was in the mid-90s – a lot has changed since then.

St. Louis – The Scottrade Center hosted the 2007 edition of the Frozen Four, and by most accounts did a pretty good job with it. According to reports, the city’s planning to give it another shot already, but this is definitely too early for the Gateway city to be hosting again.

Denver – I’m tempted to say that Denver might be able to get a little quicker of a turn-around time that Boston and the Twin Cities are entitled to as the two epicenters of college hockey, but given recent history, where St. Paul will have spent 9 years waiting for the Frozen Four’s return and with Boston having to wait at least that long, I don’t think Denver will have a shot until the next round of bidding.

The Odder Picks, With History

Omaha – Nebraska-Omaha’s home building, Qwest Center, bid just before opening in 2003 and are planning for a bid in this cycle already. Although it probably wouldn’t seem like it to an outsider, Omaha is actually a pretty decent hockey city, with strong junior hockey roots as well as strong support for the Mavericks. Omaha is still probably a darkhorse for the Frozen Four, though, as the area and the facility may both be a touch small for the tournament.

Kansas City – KC has been patiently waiting for their chance to host a Frozen Four, missing out in 2000 and 2005 for different reasons. The city was short-listed in 2000, but lost on a bid centered around Kemper Arena, an older facility. 2005 was instead centered around the Sprint Center, a newer, state-of-the-art facility which hopes to attract an NBA or NHL team, but in 2005 the building existed only on paper, breaking ground just days after failing to make the short-list cut. Now the building is a reality and has drawn rave reviews. With another bid in the works, and with the Hockey Commissioners Association placing the 2012 IceBreaker there, KC may just make the short-list again and could be a favorite for a bid if everything shakes out well.

San Antonio – The Alamodome has been a part of the last two bid processes, in 2003 and 2005. Both times the bid was supported by the University of Texas-San Antonio. In the past, there had been some hesitance to place the Frozen Four in a location without a hockey-connected host, but the 2009 Frozen Four was hosted by Navy with no problems. San Antonio would combine the NCAA’s penchant for including non-traditional locations with size – according to Wikipedia, the building seats 36,000 for hockey, which would make it as accessible as Ford Field will be next year, only with fewer empty seats and likely, better sight lines, since the facility has two permanent Olympic-sized rinks. Could they get that many to make the trip to San Antonio, though? Questions still abound, and San Antonio definitely isn’t a “hockey city” even by looser southern standards.

Miami – BankAtlantic Center in nearby Sunrise failed to make the short list in 2005, probably thanks to Tampa making the cut. I wouldn’t expect the NCAA to be so quick to return to Florida after 2012, especially since this bid will be awarded prior to that event.

Orlando – TD Waterhouse Center, now Amway  Arena, bid in 2000, supported by Disney, Quinnipiac, and what was then the MAAC. While I’m sure a Disney Frozen Four would be magical indeed, the same reasoning applies to Orlando as it does to Miami.

Atlanta – Philips Arena bid in 2000 with Georgia State as the sponsor, and didn’t make the cut. If a bid gets put forward there could be interest, but since they didn’t put forward bids in 2003 or 2005, perhaps the interest isn’t there.

Phoenix – The Coyotes’ Jobing.com Arena in Glendale failed to make the short-list in 2005. Speaking from personal experience, Arizona’s a great place to watch a hockey game (especially in February), but with all of the turmoil going on with the Coyotes right now, there are probably better choices for a non-traditional location.

Los Angeles – The 1999 Frozen Four in nearby Anaheim was a success financially for the NCAA, but the cost of transporting the teams there – three of them were Hockey East teams – put a damper on the net return. Fan reaction tended to be negative to the area at the time as well, leading me to believe that LA probably isn’t a strong contender.

San Jose – A bid backed by RPI was put forward in 2000 and made the NCAA’s short-list, but the financial issues surrounding the then-recent 1999 Frozen Four in Anaheim may have helped put the kibosh on the HP Pavilion’s chances. With the time that’s passed in the interim, if the interest is there and there’s a sponsor, the Shark Tank might have a decent shot if California as a whole isn’t “poisoned” by the ’99 event. Just as with Atlanta, no bids in the last two cycles may indicate that the interest isn’t there anymore.

My Own Odder Picks

Dallas – If the NCAA is insistent on following the NHL’s lead by showcasing itself in warm-weather, non-traditional sites, it stands to reason that a Frozen Four in Dallas, which has been one of the most successful warm-weather success stories, would be an intriguing idea, and, to be honest, American Airlines Center is a very nice facility for hockey. If the interest is there for a bid, I have to think it would get some very serious consideration.

Chicago – So while we’re listing off practically every NHL arena out there, especially in traditional climates, why not the United Center? Right now, the sole sports focus of the city of Chicago – other than the Blackhawks’ current playoff run and the Cubs – is on the 2016 Olympics. That bid won’t be over until October, and it wouldn’t give much time to throw something together in the interim.

Toronto – OK, I admit it, now I’m just getting weird, but given some of the picks we’ve seen, why not Toronto? Actually, here’s a couple of good reasons why not Toronto – the NCAA hasn’t, to my knowledge, ever crowned a champion outside of the lower 48, and it would be a logistical nightmare for fans with passport requirements now in place for returning to the United States. But if you could throw those two considerations out, you know there’d be a lot to love about a Frozen Four at the Air Canada Centre.

Sorry

Detroit, St. Paul, Tampa, and Washington – It’ll be much too early for these four cities, even though Washington Capitals manager George McPhee has already indicated after the very successful event there this year that he’d like to host the Frozen Four again, and soon. Detroit and St. Paul will probably have another shot to host sometime in the late 2010s, though, for Detroit hopefully before Joe Louis Arena closes, since the building will be going on 40 years old by that point. We won’t know about Tampa’s chances for the future until 2012.

Albany and Providence – The party’s over for both of these cities. The Times Union Center in Albany seems to submit a bid practically every time they are requested, and Providence is one of those true college hockey destinations, but neither the Dunkin’ Donuts Center nor the TUC are big enough for what the Frozen Four has become since they last hosted the event in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

That’s It

So how about it? What do YOU think? Any place I left out? Any city not getting its due props? Feel free to drop a comment or two before I make my “Way Too Early Picks for the 2013-15 Frozen Fours, Like My Opinion Mattered” predictions.

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