Denver to host West Regionals in Loveland in 2020 & 2021

Photo credit: NCAA Ice Hockey Twitter

The NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament is returning to Colorado for the first time since 2008 when the Pepsi Center hosted the Frozen Four. This morning, the NCAA announced the 2020 & 2021 regional sites and hosts and the University of Denver’s bid to host the West Regional at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland in both of those years was selected. This announcement brings national postseason college hockey back to a state that has meant so much to the history of the sport.

As the only site that will serve as a host in the next two tournaments, Loveland will join Albany, NY (East), Worcester, MA (Northeast), and Allentown, PA (Midwest) as regional hosts in 2020 and Bridgeport, CT (East), Manchester, NH (Northeast), and Fargo, ND (Midwest) in 2021.

The Budweiser Events Center is the current home of the Colorado Eagles which is the Colorado Avalanche’s AHL affiliate and is located just under an hour north of downtown Denver on I-25. It seats 7,200 and has proven to be a great venue for both hockey and other higher-profile events.

“We are thrilled to host the regional in Loveland,” Denver head coach David Carle said in a press release. “Loveland is a great hockey community that deserves an event like this. Also, for the first time in a long time, our great fans will be able to drive to watch us compete in the NCAA tournament as we strive for our program’s ninth national championship.”

This is another step in an increasingly exciting era of Denver Hockey that has seen the Pioneers earn a berth in three of the last four Frozen Fours and win the 2017 national title. The Pioneers have continued to rise back to the top of the ranks of college hockey and hosting the next two West Regionals was a logical next step that had been heavily supported by Denver alumni.

While attendance at regionals around the country has been justifiably criticized as thousands of empty seats are often seen on ESPN’s telecasts, there is a great chance that Loveland may buck that trend and draw very well as long as Denver extends their streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament berths to 13 and 14 over the next two years. Not only is it an easy drive north for local DU fans, Loveland was recently named the ninth best hockey town in the country. This is a great move for the university, the hockey program, and the entire state’s sports landscape.

4 thoughts on “Denver to host West Regionals in Loveland in 2020 & 2021”

  1. Huge win for Front Range college hockey. This is great for CC, AFA and the Loveland Eagles, too. It is interesting to see how some fans from other markets react to a Loveland Regional. You would think Loveland was on mars. Just try to get to Fargo or Allentown from Denver. Now, other teams can fly 1,000 – 2,000 miles to Denver for a regional. DU has been doing this forever.

  2. This is great news for Denver fans, who won’t have to fly to a regional as long as Denver qualifies for the the NCAA tournament in the next two seasons.

    The arena seats 5,200 for hockey and is an easy drive for the Denver metro area, as well as Colorado Springs.

    There is some risk to the site though – if Denver, CC, Air Force or North Dakota don’t make the NCAAs, there could be only 500-1,000 die-hard college hockey fans there, as it’s too far for the other fan bases to show up in any numbers.

    When Denver last hosted the regionals at Pepsi Center in 2007, DU fans had to buy 6 regional tickets in order to get two Frozen Four tickets for the 2008 Frozen Four in Denver. DU didn’t qualify for either the 2007 or 2008 events on the ice, but the average attendance at both was pretty strong anyway – 7,444 for the regional and 18,573 for the Frozen Four (Sellout). However, the finances were obviously not strong enough for DU to submit another bid at Pepsi Center – I suspect the high fees to rent and staff the place have made further bids unattractive since 2008.

    It should be interesting to see how many DU fans are willing to drive to Loveland. I can remember the 2004 Regional in Colorado Springs averaged 2,900 for the two sessions. Perhaps 500-750 DU fans there, 1,000 UND fans there and 1,200 locals. But that was in a time when DU hadn’t won an NCAA title in 35 years. I think DU can get at least 2,000 fans to Loveland today.

  3. I’ll be there! As 5BWest notes there is quite a nice hockey following up north. They routinely sell out for the Eagles and I think as long as word gets out there will be a robust number of locals who don’t necessarily have a tie to the involved teams. DU really needs to be playing in this. I fully believe they will but you never know with injuries, attrition etc

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