- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

The NCAA yesterday awarded the men’s 2009 ice hockey championships to the District. The tournament will be played at MCI Center from April9 to 11.

Officials of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, which helped bring the event here, were overjoyed with their first major coup. The tournament, which usually sells out well in advance no matter what schools are involved, is expected to generate about $10million for the area.

The Frozen Four, as the tournament is known, is more profitable than every NCAA postseason tournament except men’s basketball.

“We wouldn’t bring the Frozen Four into a community that wasn’t ready to embrace college hockey, even if we could sell it out,” said Wayne Dean, a Yale associate athletic director and chairman of the men’s hockey committee. The Naval Academy is the local NCAA sponsor even though it doesn’t have a varsity hockey program.

It was the two-year-old Sports Alliance’s first bid for the tournament. Fourteen cities submitted proposals, a list that was trimmed to six before four winners were announced yesterday. Detroit (2010), St. Paul, Minn. (2011), and Tampa, Fla., (2012) also were chosen.

“The MCI Center and the city of Washington just provide a great backdrop,” Dean said. “There are just so many things in Washington that fit what we’re trying to do — naming a national champion in the national capital is a big lift. It was just a great bid.”

Dean said a key factor in Washington’s favor was Metro and its accessibility.

“You can hit the ground at the airport and take Metro to downtown, never rent a car and walk around,” he said. “And it’s a great sports city. Couple that with the attractions our nation’s capital has, we just thought it was a great site. It was an exciting opportunity for us.”

Said AOL executive and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who served on the Alliance committee: “Washington will provide a unique opportunity for student-athletes and fans as a tremendous backdrop for college hockey’s premier event.”

The announcement provided some welcome good news in the area for the sport, which has endured the NHL’s ongoing labor dispute for nine months.

“The growth of amateur hockey in this area is staggering,” said Caps general manager George McPhee, who won the Hobey Baker Award, hockey’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, while at Bowling Green. “We’re a strong NHL market. We have tremendous interest at the amateur level — everything the NCAA was looking for.”

Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this article.

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