Don’t Expect Frozen Four Ever to Return to Buffalo
To say attendance at this year's Frozen Four Men's Ice Hockey Championships was disappointing would be putting it mildly. The 13,624 turnout for Saturday night's championship game between Massachusetts and Minnesota Duluth at KeyBank Center was the lowest since 2001 in Albany. But that Albany event was sold out. In Buffalo there were 4,000 tickets that went unsold.
The last time Buffalo hosted the Frozen Four tickets sold out a year in advance. So what happened? The NCAA says it's too early to say, but outrageous ticket prices may have something to do with it.
I can't imagine that fans in Buffalo are just so fed up with the state of hockey - namely, the Sabres - that they just didn't want to be in the arena. Whatever the reason, they missed some great hockey with Minnesota Duluth winning Saturday's title game over Massachusetts 3-0. Many of the players on the ice Saturday will be playing in the NHL someday, if not as soon as next year.
To be able to host college hockey's premier event was a coup for Buffalo because the competition and bids from other cities was stiff. Erie County Executive Mark Polencarz stated that it was rare for a city like Buffalo to receive the Frozen Four twice in less than 20 years.
The event was good news for the area's hotels, bars and restaurants. Visit Buffalo Niagara estimates the event brought in about $4-million dollars to the area. Many hotels as far away as Niagara Falls and Hamburg were sold out for the event. Many restaurants and bars downtown were packed.
Unfortunately it didn't cross over into ticket sales and for the NCAA that's important. Large sections, especially in the upper level of KeyBank Center were empty and that's a real shame.