Frozen Four: An Open Letter From Committee Chair Bill Bellerose
April 15, 2010
Well, the record-setting 2010 Frozen Four is over and now in the books. A big congratulations goes out to Boston College who played outstanding hockey all weekend.
I think the majority of fans that were able to join us had a great time in Detroit. However, after reading the web (and receiving some emails), I thought I would take this time to address some issues and concerns that have been raised with the 2010 Men's Frozen Four.
Let me first start with the venue. Everyone at Ford Field and the Detroit LOC was tremendous to work with. They bent over backwards to meet the needs of the committee, teams and fans. In addition, the people of Detroit were very friendly, from the security people at the events to the hotel and restaurant staff that I encountered, everyone was welcoming of college hockey fans in Detroit. In addition, there were a ton of things to do, including Tigers home games and a fan festival at the host hotel.
With regards to the selection of Ford Field, my term as a committee member literally started about a month prior to selecting sites. The main discussion of the committee at the time was that by selecting Ford Field we could help promote the sport by allowing thousands more to see our premier event than had ever seen it before (also remember the economy was different at the time) and provide our student-athletes with a tremendous experience. Looking back on the weekend, I think we were very successful in that manner as approximately 19,000 more people were able to share the event with us this year than will be able to see it in Saint Paul in 2011, and in the process set a world record for attendance at an indoor hockey game.
Hopefully we exposed people to the event that were never able to see it before and we can capitalize on that next year during the regular season and for years to come. Not only were more people able to enjoy it from a size standpoint but also from an affordability standpoint because due to the size of the venue we were able to have some tickets priced as low as $40.
Although some people undoubtedly feel the decision was made with making money in mind, this was not the case as the expenditures of doing something like this are tremendous and offset any added revenue. The playing surface was a top priority, and that is why we made sure to bring in NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig to run the show with regards to everything to do with the ice. Dan is considered "The Ice Guru", and has been in charge of the ice surface at every NHL Winter Classic and also at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
There definitely were opportunities for change if this scenario presented itself again. While the majority of sight lines were very good, there were some issues, especially with the seats right behind the team benches and the pitch of the temporary seating. In addition, some people mentioned the lack of atmosphere, but I thought looking at the seats full of 37,000 plus was a great atmosphere. While the noise certainly wasn't deafening, unfortunately we didn't have any overtime contests, or last minute game-winning goals, so it is very difficult to determine if lack of noise had to do with venue or closeness of games in the last half of the third period.
As a committee, our next order of business is to select sites for 2013 and 2014. As most fans are aware we will be at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul next year and at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa in 2012. With the bids received I can assure you we will be in NHL or NHL-type facilities for 2013 and 2014. This is my last year on the committee so I can't speculate on where the committee will decide to take the Frozen Four beyond 2014. However, if there comes a time when Ford Field bids again, and the committee at that time reached out for my opinion as the chair of the 2010 Men's Ice Hockey Championships, I would definitely tell the committee that it is something they need to take a serious look at. I am certainly not advocating that this is something we should do all the time, or even every four or five years, but I think it would be a mistake to say that we should never consider doing it again. We need to continue to be aggressive in trying to build and grow college hockey, and where that leads us I am not sure, but we certainly need to keep our eyes open.
In my opinion, college hockey is the greatest sport and the Frozen Four is the greatest show on ice. It has been my privilege to been the chair of the committee for the past year and a member for the past four.
I will be sure to check back in at the end of June after we announce the sites for 2013 and 2014.