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.
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) April 19, 2019
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.
Two years in Loveland!! I think you'll be surprised how well Loveland draws. It's a great hockey town and as long as Denver makes the tournament, people will make the surprisingly easy drive north. Loveland is great. https://t.co/N526MaDomb
— LetsGoDU (@LetsGoDU) April 19, 2019
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.