Officials say Frozen Four is showing off the best in Buffalo
The Buffalo Niagara region is no stranger to hosting major collegiate and amateur sporting events, including opening rounds of March Madness in the NCAA basketball tournament.
That’s why local officials had a simple message during a news conference Tuesday: We’re ready.
For the second time since 2003, Buffalo this weekend will be hosting the Frozen Four Division I collegiate hockey championship at KeyBank Center, which is expected to have a $6.1 million economic impact on the region, according to Bill Maher, director of athletics at Canisius College.
Maher is part of a team that helped attract the event to Western New York.
“The City of Buffalo continues to be chosen for these events because of the way our community supports this event and because of the way the folks that are involved in our LLC run the championship event,” Maher said.
“We have an experienced committee, an experienced group of people here in Western New York who are ready and able to help host this championship event, and we’re thrilled to be able to bring it to everybody and look forward to the game this weekend.”
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, noting that the event rotates to different venues and cities across the county, said it was not so long ago that he and Mayor Byron Brown joined representatives from Canisius and Niagara University to make their pitch for the Frozen Four.
“We had some pretty stiff competition from other cities across the United States that had never had it,” Poloncarz said. “It just goes to show that the NCAA believes in our community by bringing it back here.”
Patrick Kaler, president of Visit Buffalo Niagara, said many college hockey fans travel to wherever the championship will be held. He said he is sure that some who are in town this weekend were here in 2003.
“We are so pleased that they are going to see a new Buffalo when they arrive this week,” he said. “When you think about it, this was just a parking lot outside of our doors here. Canalside hadn’t been developed at that time.”
Brown said it helped significantly for Buffalo to have the proper facilities to host an event like the Frozen Four. He thanked Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Kim and Terry Pegula for their work to make that happen.
Maher said about 4,000 tickets were unsold by Tuesday afternoon. Regardless of how many remain, he said organizers are focused on providing fans with an experience they will remember.
“Through Visit Buffalo Niagara, our sports commission, they have people that are stationed in all of the hotels, all the airports, to coordinate the different attractions that are in Western New York,” he said.
Crews prepare the KeyBank Center – including a new logo for this weekend’s NCAA Frozen Four championship college hockey games – in Buffalo on Tuesday