Any day now, the NCAA will be announcing the finalists for their 2013, 2014, and 2015 Frozen Fours, before making their final decision in June. Pittsburgh seems to be a favorite. SBN's Penguins blog Pensburgh got a tour of the new arena being built, and it looks pretty nice, and superior to Mellon Arena in every way, except it doesn't like super-villain's hangout. I'd be shocked if they don't get one of the bids.
Per the article, the other places that have publicly submitted bids are: St. Louis, Milwaukee, Buffalo, Denver, and Omaha. The first four are retreads that don't particularly excite me, except maybe Denver, which did a good job two years ago. I'd like to see Omaha get a bid. The Qwest Center is nice enough, the city has lots of experience hosting semi-major NCAA championships, and Omaha is one of those towns that I think people would really enjoy once they got there.
There's a couple other cities/venues that I would like to see host a Frozen Four someday. I'll throw those after the jump.
1. Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
A Nashville Frozen Four looks scarily similar to the 2005 Columbus Frozen Four, which wasn't exactly a huge success. They're both NHL markets, but non-traditional hockey markets. Part of Columbus' big downfall though was that they got stuck with the all-WCHA Frozen Four, which kind of killed interest. Plus, Nashville is a city that is renowned for its bar scene, so it would be a pretty fun trip to make.
2. American Airlines Center, Dallas
Again, scary similarities to the Anaheim Frozen Four, which a huge success. It's a burgeoning NHL market, but it's also a flight for any college hockey fan that wants to go. But there are some positives. Dallas is a big city, but big enough that a Frozen Four would go unnoticed like in a New York or Los Angeles. Dallas has also done a great job building their youth hockey system, and Frozen Four would help nurture that, and provide exposure to the NCAA game to a lot of kids that might not otherwise see an NCAA game in person before having to make a decision with his eligibility with regards to the WHL.
3. Metrodome, Minneapolis
Trust me, no one wants to go back inside the Metrodome less than I do. I wouldn't have said this last week, but I saw enough potential in the Ford Field Frozen Four that I think a similar event could work. Detroit and Minneapolis would be the only two cities I would consider, and Detroit is out after already hosting one. That just leaves the Metrodome. Most of the big complaints about Ford Field are easily fixable. Add a little more angle to the riser seats, and don't have all three games be complete duds and you've got a pretty successful event.
4. Proposed New Red Wings Arena, Detroit
Detroit did such a spectacular job rolling out the red carpet for the Frozen Four that they likely deserve another one, but the issue is where to play it. Ford Field won't happen again since I think some of the novelty is off. Joe Louis Arena isn't up to par as a Frozen Four venue. The Palace wouldn't work because the event has to be downtown--not just in a Martha Reeves/left over race riot tension sense, but also because I think it would be boring for people that didn't have a car.
That pretty much leaves the long-rumored Red Wings arena built on the land Wings' owner Mike Ilitich owns behind the Fox Theatre. That would be a great venue, but for now, it's just an ugly looking vacant lot. I'd schedule a Frozen Four there as soon as they break ground on it though.
5. Whatever The Bruins' Arena is Called, Boston
I don't think you can ever go too long without a Frozen Four in Boston, especially since that's about the only potential candidate for a Frozen Four in the northeast, now that they seem to have outgrown Providence.
I've heard some people talk about a fixed rotation of the Twin Cities, Boston, and possibly Detroit. I maybe wouldn't mind seeing a four-year rotation of St. Paul, Boston, alternating Detroit/Denver, and a wildcard. That keeps the Frozen Four in the most major markets, while also venturing out into a non-traditional area every once in a while.
The problem with that is that the NCAA thinks--and I agree--that the Frozen Four should be a special event where the host really goes all out and having fixed hosts breeds complacency. It was very telling that Boston wasn't given a Frozen Four in the last round of bids. There was a huge feeling that they half-assed the 2004 Frozen Four, and when they bid again in 2005, they expected to automatically be given one . By the NCAA passing on them in 2005, it was a pretty clear statement that hosting a Frozen Four is a privilege that has to be earned.
6. Air Canada Centre, Toronto
I saw this one thrown against the wall by someone, and while I think it's intriguing, the odds of it ever happening are probably slim to none.
It's got huge pluses in that Toronto is a great city and it is probably the world's best hockey market. The Frozen Four is NCAA hockey's showcase event, so I don't see a huge problem playing it outside the country, especially in a place that is prime recruiting grounds for a lot of teams.
The problem is that I just don't see much support for it north of the border, which is what you would need to make it work. They've got their own product up there, which they feel they need to protect. As it is, the CHL is sitting down this summer to figure out how to assassinate Paul Kelly(figuratively....I think?) The Air Canada Center probably wouldn't mind hosting, since they host very little around this time of year, but I think the opposition could throw up enough roadblocks to keep that from happening.