Monday, Feb. 6, 2012

Big Ten Hockey looking at neutral site for tournament

By Nicole
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The Big Ten Hockey Conference hasn't stated playing yet, but their proposal for conference playoffs had caused quite a few ripples in the Wisconsin sports landscape.

The Badgers' current conference, the WCHA, holds their conference playoff, the Final Five is always played at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Badgers have never before had to worry about needing to use the Kohl Center during that weekend.

With the proposal from the BTHC, suddenly the Kohl Center would need to be available that weekend.

Unfortunately, the Kohl Center hosts the WIAA State High School Boys and Girls basketball Championships and State Wrestling Tournament those weekends.

With the change in hockey plans, the University of Wisconsin had basically told the WIAA they'd have to figure it out. The WIAA contract with the Kohl Center expires in 2013.

I think UW thought the WIAA would roll over for them, but instead they basically told UW and Madison that they didn't need them and started at looking at other sites to host their yearly state championship.

Despite the fact that UW acted as though they couldn't care less about the WIAA, it appears they went to the Big Ten and the other commissioners and begged them to figure out another option.

The official story is that the hockey landscape has changed since the home-site decision was made, but I imagine the loss of what is described as a $9 million economy boost to Madison played a large part in the decision.

The Green Bay area has been aggressively courting the WIAA to move those tournaments to their city and the Resch Center. They've offered shares of all the accompanying revenue, have gotten hotels to commit to no minimum rental and have even got the Packers and Lambeau Field to talk about hosting meals and even involving player appearances.

This announcement from the Big Ten does have an impact, but the WIAA is saying there are still concerns. A men's hockey home series conflicts in 2012 and with UW planning on bidding on the 2014 and 2015 Women's Frozen Four, there would be more conflicts. There are also contentions about parking and concession prices.

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