Would Be In the 2023-26 Cycle
by Greg Cameron/CHN Reporter
The return of the Frozen Four to the West could happen sooner than later, if things continue as they appear to be headed.
A group from Las Vegas will bid to host both a Regional and Frozen Four in the upcoming 2023-26 bidding cycle.
The bids, which are already being prepared, will be spearheaded by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), a group that is no stranger to bringing some of the biggest events to Sin City; the LVCVA is responsible for hosting four Division I basketball conference tournaments each year, the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game, and the 2020 NFL Draft, among many others.
Lisa Motley, the LVCVA’s Director of Sports Marketing and Special Events, confirmed that her group is vying for the Frozen Four, and that it will “most likely” bid for a Regional as well.
“We put on events every day of the year. We’re bullish on college hockey — we’re bullish on hockey in general now with what the Vegas Golden Knights have done for us, making us an ice destination,” Motley said. “It has actually opened doors for us, too, with U.S. Figure Skating, so we would never not bid on something.”
T-Mobile Arena, home of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, is the frontrunner for host venue, but because the bids will not be exclusive to MGM Resorts International, the operator and co-owner of the arena, other venues are interested.
Motley considers T-Mobile to the be most likely option, but was sure to not rule out those other venues just yet, citing the city’s large event schedule as one of the biggest determining factors.
Representatives for T-Mobile Arena and the Vegas Golden Knights could not be reached for comment.
From a Regional standpoint, one other option could be Orleans Arena, a 7,500-seat venue which hosted the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game between Minnesota and North Dakota last October, and was the home of the defunct Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. Tickets for that Minnesota-North Dakota game sold out in 15 minutes.
As is required by the NCAA, the LVCVA will have a host school attached to these bids. Motley is currently involved in conversations with “one or two” Midwest schools, but did not name them, and also confirmed that Arizona State and UNLV will not be a part of the process.
According to Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the city submitted a bid to host the Frozen Four for the 2019-2022 cycle, but was rejected due to NCAA policy prohibiting states where sports betting is legal from hosting its championships. Since then, the policy has been lifted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 and allow states to choose whether or not they legalize sports betting.
The group that submitted the rejected bid, Las Vegas Events, is a private arm of the LVCVA. That submission also included bids for a basketball regional and a wrestling tournament event.
Motley says that the LVCVA knew those bids were going to be rejected, but still felt as though it was important to submit them to show the NCAA how serious they are about hosting its championship events.
“With the fact that we have four college basketball conference championships anyway, and that they’re very, very successful here, I think the NCAA will try to find other events that can be hosted in Las Vegas,” Motley said. “I think the NCAA will find a lot of success here.”
Should Las Vegas be awarded a future Frozen Four, it would become only the second city west of Colorado to host the event — the first since Anaheim in 1999.
A separate source told CHN that Arizona State will probably explore a bid to host NCAA Tournament hockey in the Phoenix area. This information lines up with ASU athletic director Ray Anderson’s comments to CHN earlier this month about the Sun Devils’ desire to host events once the team’s new facilities are complete.
That source added that Arizona State did not submit any bids to host for this current cycle, although there were talks about it. If those talks had advanced, that site likely would have been Gila River Arena in Glendale, home of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes and location of a small handful of the school’s marquee matchups.
One other city in the western United States to keep an eye on would be San Jose. The Bay Area packed the first quarter of 2019 with big events like the College Football Playoff National Championship, the NHL All-Star Game, and first-and second-round action of the Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. The San Jose Sports Authority declined to comment at this time.
The next two years of regional hosts were announced recently; it included a Colorado site (Loveland) for the first time in more than 10 years. The next three Frozen Four hosts were awarded two years earlier; those sites are Detroit (2020), Pittsburgh (2021) and Boston (2022). The NCAA has yet to announce regional sites for 2022.
The window to submit bids to the NCAA for the 2023-26 cycle will open in the fall and close in early 2020.
Originally published at https://www.collegehockeynews.com/news/2019/05/03_Las-Vegas-Already-Eyeing.php