May 18, 2005
CHA Tourney Moves to Michigan

By James Jahnke

The College Hockey America tournament is on the move again.

After a one-year visit to Grand Rapids, Minn., the six-team battle for an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament will relocate to the Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum in Detroit next March, CHA commissioner Bob Peters told INCH on Wednesday.

The league’s women’s tournament also will be held at the Coliseum, and the respective championship games likely will be scheduled as a doubleheader to facilitate CSTV’s desire to air both contests.

The State Fairgrounds Coliseum is a former home of Wayne State’s men’s team, and seats about 5,500 people. The attendance for the three-day event in Grand Rapids in March was between 1,000 and 1,500 per day.

“I’ve never been there, but the arena is enough to meet our needs,” Peters said.

Coliseum landlord Glenn Murray said he has a proposal from the CHA on his desk, and he plans to respond to it within a week. He characterized the process as in the “firming up” stage.

“I’m looking forward to (the tournament),” Murray said. “We want to make sure we do it right. That’s why we’re taking our time.”

The CHA tournament is the only one-weekend, single-site playoff in Division I hockey. All six conference teams qualify, with the top two seeds receiving byes. Two games are played on the first day, two games on the second and the championship on the third.

Adding the women’s tournament, which was held in Erie, Pa., this year, to the mix creates some logistical problems, but nothing that can’t be overcome. One plausible scenario has the women’s semifinals on a Thursday (most likely March 9) with the championship on Sunday. The men would play Friday, Saturday and Sunday as they have in recent years.

If the CHA event runs March 9-12 as expected, it would arrive in Detroit a week before the CCHA finals a couple of miles down the road at Joe Louis Arena, thus avoiding any conflict.

Past CHA tournaments have been in Grand Rapids, Minn. (2005), Kearney, Neb. (2003-04), Lewiston, N.Y. (2002) and Huntsville, Ala. (2000-01). Peters called the Grand Rapids effort the league’s “best ever,” but he said Wayne State deserves a chance to host.

WSU officials have not returned calls this week.

“We’re just moving it around a little bit right now,” Peters said. “If we could find a permanent spot like the WCHA has in St. Paul, we would enjoy that. But we’re going through the same thing the WCHA did before it found a permanent site.”

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