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New-look WCHA eyeing alternating sites for championship tournament
June 12, 2012 - Matt Wellens
MARQUETTE — Speaking via phone from his hotel room in Detroit on Tuesday, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said the league is “awfully close” to finalizing a postseason plan that would involve four schools playing for the league title at alternating sites, similar to what the Big Ten hockey conference will do starting with the 2013-14 season.
“That’s where we are going,” he said.
The Big Ten has already announced its intentions to play its championship tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul in 2014 and 2016 and at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit in 2015 and 2017.
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference settled Monday on one site — the Target Center in Minneapolis — for its first five seasons starting in 2014.
McLeod, who was unwilling to give specific locations, said the WCHA is “pretty firm” on one site, but there are still loose ends that need to be tied up on an alternate venue for the tournament with multiple sites — but not the Resch Center Green Bay — still in play.
McLeod said there was strong interest in holding the league championship weekend in Titletown, but the Wisconsin high school girls basketball state championship tournament got in the way and the league didn’t want to schedule around it.
McLeod said nothing is finalized as of yet for postseason play, but the coaches and athletic directors of the nine schools that will make up the WCHA starting in 2013-14 — Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State, Minnesota State Mankato, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Lake Superior State, Ferris State and Bowling Green State — are ready to put a plan on the table for the university presidents and chancellors who are all meeting together in Detroit starting today at 3 p.m.
League meetings will wrap up Wednesday.
“We’ve been working hard the last year to get things together,” McLeod said. “This is the first real chance we’ve had to present to the presidents' group how far we have gotten.”
Besides the location of a postseason tournament, McLeod said the coaches and athletic directors will be presenting other proposals to the university presidents and chancellors concerning marketing and governance. Much of the talks are to make sure the coaches and athletic directors are financially “barking up the right tree,” according to McLeod.
“We’re looking for a direction from the presidents,” McLeod said. “We want to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
Options for broadcasting league games is one issue that will be brought up, among other possible long-term marketing initiatives.
"We’ve had discussions involving the price tags for the different levels with broadband and television,” McLeod said.
In terms of governance, McLeod said he doesn’t anticipate any staffing changes in the WCHA offices and that he plans to fulfil his contract, which expires after the 2013-14 season. The league members will be discussing the possibility of consolidating the WCHA offices in a central location, he said.
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