That nutty idea of holding the college ice hockey championship in Anaheim? Worked so well, it turns out the NCAA wants Anaheim to bid for another Frozen Four.
Maine won the Division I hockey championship at the Arrowhead Pond last weekend, the first time the NCAA staged its Division I hockey championship west of the Rocky Mountains. The championship game attracted 14,447, short of a sellout but still the fifth-largest crowd for an NCAA hockey final in this decade.
"I would definitely encourage them to bid again," Tom Jacobs, NCAA senior assistant director of championships, said Wednesday. "I think it's healthy for the sport.
"Most of the teams are in the East, so you don't want to stray too far, but every so often this is great exposure. And, certainly, the building was absolutely fantastic."
The championships turned a profit even after accounting for financial guarantees to the NCAA, tournament manager Tim Dillon said.
Dillon also said he has received congratulatory phone calls and e-mail messages from fans across the country, many of whom went to Anaheim even after their team was eliminated in the playoffs. No school closer than Colorado fields a Division I team, and the Frozen Four featured Maine, New Hampshire, Michigan State and Boston College.
"When we set out to do this six years ago, I would have never dreamed we would have been this successful," Dillon said. "We're on cloud nine right now."
The NCAA has awarded Frozen Four sites through 2003--Providence College in Rhode Island will host the event in 2000--and will not discuss sites beyond then until next year at the earliest, Jacobs said. As long as no local college fields a Division I team, Anaheim again would need to find a host school.
Dillon, vice chancellor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, said his school would again be willing to coordinate an event thousands of miles from campus. ESPN featured the school on its national championship broadcast, and campus officials distributed information, including applications for admission, at the Pond.
"We could not pay for the kind of exposure our institution got," Dillon said. "I would do it again, in a heartbeat."
Alaska Anchorage teamed with the Los Angeles Sports Council to organize and promote the event, and council president David Simon wants the event to return, Dillon said. Pond General Manager Tim Ryan seconded the motion.
"We would love to host it again, without hesitation," Ryan said. "We've had nothing but positive feedback. Hopefully, it bodes well for us being a host in the future."