Frozen Four returning to Tampa Bay in 2016

For the second time in four years, the NCAA's Division I Men's Ice Hockey National Championship will be decided at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Tampa Bay, specifically the Tampa Bay Times Forum, has been selected to host the 2016 NCAA "Frozen Four", the tournament that determines the national championship in Division I Men's Ice Hockey. This will be the second time the event will take place here, with the region and arena previously hosting the 2012 Frozen Four. The University of Wisconsin will be the official host institution. In addition, the event will be held in Boston (MA) in 2015, Chicago (IL) in 2017 and St. Paul (MN) in 2018. Below is the press release from the Tampa Sports Commission:

TAMPA, FL – On Wednesday, the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee announced that Tampa Bay has been awarded the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four. It marks the second time in the event’s history that the Championship will be hosted in Tampa Bay (previously hosted in 2012). The Tampa Bay Sports Commission is partnering with the University of Wisconsin, who serves as the official host institution for the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. The Tampa Bay Times Forum will serve as the host venue for the semifinals and national championship game, which will be played on April 7 and 9, 2016.

"For Tampa Bay to be awarded a second NCAA Men's Frozen Four, after the event had previously never been to the south in its history, speaks volumes to our community's sincere affinity and reputation for creating a student-athlete experience that is second to none," said Rob Higgins, Tampa Bay Sports Commission's Executive Director. "We could not be more grateful to the NCAA staff, the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee and college hockey fans for fulfilling our dream of becoming a frequent home to this great event."

When discussing its partnership with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, University of Wisconsin Director of Athletics, Barry Alvarez said, "We're thrilled to be serving as host of the Frozen Four. Our partners with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission do quality work and I know their staff and ours will put on a great show."

Tampa Bay set a first-time host attendance record with a crowd of 18,818 at the championship game. A total of 56,028 spectators enjoyed hockey over the three-game span, a number that also ranks sixth all time in the event’s 65 year history. Today’s announcement marks the quickest return to a host city since St. Paul, Minnesota in 1991 and 1994. It’s also the first time a Women’s Final Four (2015) and a Frozen Four (2016) will be hosted by the same city in consecutive years since 1996-97 (Cincinnati).

‘We are pleased to welcome the NCAA and its student-athletes back to the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the 2016 Frozen Four," said Bill Wickett, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "Our goal in 2012 was to impact the student-athletes in a way they hadn’t experienced in the championship before and we look forward to working with the Sports Commission and the University of Wisconsin in 2016 to create a new set of lasting memories for players and fans alike."

Other notable quotes:

"The 2012 Frozen Four was a historic event for this area and we’re beyond thrilled to host it once again. Our sincerest thanks to the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee for entrusting us with one of the premier championships in all of college athletics."

- Ken Hagan, Hillsborough County Commissioner

"One of our goals each season is to reach the Frozen Four, so it would be a unique experience for us to co-host at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and hopefully play in such a sunny locale. The last time we hosted the Frozen Four, we won it all in Milwaukee, so we look forward to having that chance once again."

- Mike Eaves, Head Coach, University of Wisconsin