Of­fi­cials say Frozen Four is show­ing off the best in Buf­falo

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Harold McNeil

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.

Mark Mul­ville/Buf­falo News

Crews pre­pare the KeyBank Cen­ter – in­clud­ing a new logo for this week­end’s NCAA Frozen Four cham­pi­onship col­lege hockey games – in Buf­falo on Tues­day

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