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NCAA Midwest Regional hockey 2008

Badgers defenseman Jamie McBain teams up with goaltender Shane Connelly to block a shot by Denver's J.P. Testwuide in a game at the Kohl Center during the 2008 Midwest Regional.

After the Kohl Center hosted an NCAA men's hockey regional in 2008, the facility fell out of favor for selection on two fronts.

One, the University of Wisconsin arena was on campus. The NCAA hockey committee wanted tournament games to be played at neutral sites, saying that's the wish of the majority of the coaches and schools.

Two, it doesn't have an NHL-size rink. At 97 feet wide, the Kohl Center sheet is closer to the Olympic standard of 100 feet than the NHL's 85 feet. The latter is more prevalent across North American hockey — and the preference for the NCAA committee.

With the NCAA struggling to attract bids from sites for regionals in the Western side of college hockey, however, UW has again thrown its hat in the ring.

The school entered bids to host a regional in 2021 and 2022, officials confirmed this week. The host sites for 2020 and 2021 events are expected to be announced by the NCAA on Thursday or Friday.

"Our hope is that they give us strong consideration," said UW senior associate athletic director Jason King, who oversees the Badgers hockey programs. "We think we have a great venue."

With the Badgers playing, the 2008 Midwest region tournament at the Kohl Center drew announced crowds of 9,968 and 9,816 to the venue, which seats more than 15,000 for hockey.

In the 11 years since, only one NCAA Midwest or West region game has drawn a higher announced attendance, 10,974 for Minnesota against North Dakota at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a spot in the 2012 Frozen Four on the line.

On the other hand, UW has been on the short end of things when hosting a regional but not qualifying for the tournament. Just a few thousand fans showed up for each of the two days of the 1999 West Region tournament at the Dane County Coliseum.

In past years, the NCAA hockey committee has discussed alternate formats for the tournament, including allowing higher-seeded teams to host tournament games leading up to the Frozen Four. But it has held to the off-campus regional format despite some low attendance figures.

The only exception was in 2015, when Notre Dame's Compton Family Ice Arena hosted the Midwest Regional because there weren't any other qualified bidders.

The NCAA has tried in recent years to lure new sites to bid for a regional in the West. One that bit was the Budweiser Events Center, home of the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles in Loveland, Colorado, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

But the price tag can be steep. The NCAA requires a financial guarantee of at least $150,000 to host a regional. If the event generates a profit, 80% goes to the NCAA and 20% to the host.

Bucky!

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