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Future Frozen Four host contenders are starting to line up

Sun, shorts and college hockey.
Sun, shorts and college hockey.
Nathan Wells/SBN College Hockey

Barely three weeks after this year's Frozen Four in Tampa and months before any further are selected, several cities have been jockeying to get their names in the mix down the road.

There were fifteen different bids in 2013 for the 2015-2018 Frozen Four hosting cycle ranging from the traditional (Boston) to unique (Quinnipiac being a part of an Orlando bid that raises many questions). Those were eventually whittled down to 10 finalists. Four were chosen.

The latest city to publicly let its intentions be known for 2019 and onward is Milwaukee, which is building a new $524 million dollar arena to replace the aging Bradley Center and keep the Bucks from moving to Seattle/Anytown, USA. Despite current Bradley Center tenant AHL Milwaukee Admirals moving across the street, the new arena will include ice sheet capabilities in the hopes of getting a Frozen Four.

From the Milwaukee Business Journal yesterday:

"There are no plans for the NHL," Bucks spokesman Jake Suski said.

Rather, the Bucks owners are looking to host events such as the NCAA hockey tournament and its Frozen Four men's championship or an NHL exhibition game at the new arena, Suski said.

"The arena includes facilities and equipment for ice-related events so that the venue has the flexibility to attract all kinds of world-class entertainment," Suski said.

Admirals owner Harris Turer said he is not surprised the Bucks owners want a hockey rink at the new arena.

"They talked about ice for the Frozen Four," Turer said.

Milwaukee has hosted three Frozen Fours at the Bradley Center as well as a number of other college hockey events, including WCHA Final Fives. The city last hosted the Frozen Four in 2006 when nearby Wisconsin defeated Boston College to win its sixth and most recent NCAA men's hockey title.

Milwaukee's three hosting bids (1993, 1997 and 2006) all came during a time when it was the norm for Midwest and New England cities like Milwaukee and Providence to host. Wisconsin had made a Bradley Center bid for the most recent Frozen Four hosting process in 2013 that did not go past the opening stage (A second, separate bid by Wisconsin to host in Tampa did make the cut.) Every Frozen Four since 2006 has been in either a NHL building or, thanks to Ford Field hosting in 2010, a city with a NHL team.

Another city trying to buck that trend is Omaha, a city that has plenty of college championship hosting experience from being the permanent host of the College World Series.

From Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald a couple weeks ago:

One aspect of UNO moving to Baxter Arena this year is that MECA now will go after a Frozen Four for Century Link Center and Dixon thinks they have a chance to land it. The NCAA has been reluctant to play a national tournament on a team's home ice. That isn't the case anymore.

Century Link Center is located downtown near the new TD Ameritrade Park. It's also not too far from the Old Market neighborhood.

No on-campus site has hosted since the 2005 Frozen Four (aka the All-WCHA one) was held at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

Oddly enough Shatel wrote that the host for an Omaha would not be Omaha, but its Nebraska neighbor in Lincoln. Schools don't have to sponsor men's ice hockey to host the championship (see: Navy in 2009) or even the same city/state (see: Wisconsin this year in Tampa).

Speaking of Tampa, the area did not waste any time getting back in line after its second hosting job in 4 years. Zero. There was a sign saying "We Want You Back" after leaving the arena for the 2016 national championship game. (Based on the weather and number of happy fans coming back from Tampa, the feeling seems mutual.)

According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, the earliest Amalie Arena and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission/College Host TBD would try to bid is 2020. 2021 or 2022 are also acceptable.

Other cities that were in the mix last time for the Frozen Four include Washington DC, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Columbus Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Unlike NCAA Hockey regional events that go back and forth between a couple venues, there are no lack of bids for the Frozen Four.

The 2017 Frozen Four will be in Chicago. St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center hosts in 2018.


Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --