Detroit area loses Frozen Four, several other amateur events, millions in economic impact

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The NCAA's cancellation of all winter and spring championship events will cost the Detroit area multiple events, the most high-profile among them being the Frozen Four.

Division I hockey's semifinals and finals were set for Little Caesars Arena on April 9 and 11.

The Detroit economy will miss out on a good deal of money with the cancellation of the Frozen Four, which was to have been held at Little Caesars Arena.

The Detroit Sports Commission, which was to co-host the Frozen Four along with Michigan State, said the NCAA's announcement Thursday, as well as the cancellation of several amateur hockey championships and other events in Metro Detroit, could cost the region $10 million in economic impact.

The bottom line, though, isn't the bottom line in this situation, as coronavirus sweeps the globe, said Dave Beachneau, senior vice president for the DSC.

"It's bigger than sports for us," he said on a Thursday night conference call with reporters. "We have to keep that in perspective, the health and well being of everyone involved in these events.

"It's a bigger-picture issue at this point."

Besides the Frozen Four, the DSC learned this week it was losing the following events: The NCAA men's and women's fencing championships (March 19-22, TCF Center, Detroit), the USA Fencing North American Cup (March 20-23, TCF Center), the NAIA men's and women's bowling national championships (March 26-28, Five Star Lanes, Sterling Heights), the USA Hockey Tier I 16U, 18U national championships (April 1-6, Onyx Ice Arena, Rochester), the USA Hockey Tier I 15-only national championships (April 1-7, USA Hockey Arena, Plymouth), the USA Hockey Tier II 16U national championships (April 2-6, Troy Sports Center), and the NCAA women's bowling championships (April 10-11, Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park).

Beachneau wouldn't comment on the specifics of any insurance the organization has in the event of cancellations, but said the DSC would remain on solid footing financially.

"I don't want to get into financial ramifications," he said. "To us, that's not important at this time."

The DSC, a not-for-profit charitable organization, works to bring high-profile amateur sporting events to the city, and can often spend up to 18 months preparing bids. The DSC learned in April 2017 that it was to get the 2020 Frozen Four, as well as first- and second-round games of the 2021 NCAA Tournament and the 2022 Division I wrestling championships.

Beachneau hopes to get another Frozen Four in short order. The earliest year possible is 2023. Detroit has hosted six previous Frozen Fours.

As for this year's Frozen Four, which was to feature a free fan festival in the plaza outside LCA, Beachneau wouldn't say how many tickets had been sold. Refunds will be given to those who purchased Frozen Four tickets, with no action required if customers used a credit card.

Beachneau said his organization has been in regular contact in recent days with the NCAA and governing bodies of other events, and were kept well in the loop. Thursday's announcements didn't catch him by surprise, even if he's not sure what the future holds beyond the next month or so.

"This is uncharted waters, I think, for everyone," he said. "We're taking this on a day-by-day basis."

Twitter: @tonypaul1984