2012 NCAA Hockey Tournament: Northeast Regional Attendance Continues To Decline

via @jeffsav16

A Catch-22, to be sure.

Boston College hockey improved to 10-1 Sunday night in NCAA Tournament play in Worcester's DCU Center. York and the boys have simply owned the DCU Center in the postseason. But for as well as the Eagles have played in Worcester, the complaints about the NCAA Regional Semifinals at the DCU Center remain the same.

Here's Fear The Triangle's take after attending this weekend's Regional round:

"So while the two games themselves made the trip worthwhile, I can't say the same for my first trip to the DCU Center. It was pretty much as bad as everyone warned me about. There was just no feel to the building itself. The concourse was narrow. The food not very impressive. And considering that the building was never more than a third to a half full at any given time, the lines to the bathrooms were always lengthy. Doesn't exactly make me want to return anytime soon."

@jeffsav16 wants to know why we can't have the Regional at the Garden?

Why does the NCAA keep going back to the Centrum Centre every two years for the Northeast Regional? Why does a program like Holy Cross continue to put in bids to host, and why does the NCAA continue to accept those bids?

Attendance has not been good in Worcester, and this year was no exception. Aside from 2008, when the Northeast Regional averaged just 2,756 fans per session, this year's attendance average was down again from 2010 and the second lowest attended DCU Center Regional.

The official attendance for this year's Northeast Region Semifinals was 5,925 for BC-Air Force and Minnesota-Duluth, while the Regional Final drew 4,470.

Here's the DCU Center NCAA Tournament attendance figures -- since the tournament expanded to 16-teams -- based on the NCAA financial reports:

2003 Northeast Regional -- 15,482 combined, 7,741 average
2005 East Regional -- 17,055 combined, 8,527 average
2006 Northeast Regional -- 16,405 combined, 8,203 average
2008 Northeast Regional -- 8,269 combined, 2,756 average
2010 Northeast Regional -- 19,198 combined, 6,399 average
2012 Northeast Regional -- 16,320 combined, 5,440 average

The Sunday 8 PM start for this year's Northeast Regional Final certainly didn't help matters, but it's clear that Worcester NCAA Tournament attendance continues to slide. I'm not sure what happened in 2008 -- only one local team, BC, made the Regional and was joined by Miami, Minnesota and Air Force -- but if you throw out that year, the trend certainly isn't good.

The other frequent host of the Northeast Regional -- Manchester, New Hampshire's Verizon Wireless Arena -- has performed better in terms of average attendance, but last year's 7,041 average was still the lowest of the four years that New Hampshire has hosted (2004, 2007, 2009, 2011).

Though BC has had an incredible run in Worcester, I think it's time for the Holy Cross to give up hosting the Northeast Regional at the DCU Center and for the NCAA to find a way to bring the Northeast Regional to the Garden. For this to happen though, a school like BC, BU or Northeastern really has to step up and want to host the Regional round.

Naysayers will point to the fact that this will give teams like Boston College or Boston University an unfair advantage playing so close to home, but did I mention that BC is 10-1 in Worcester? How much more of an advantage can it be playing in the Garden?

College hockey can certainly use the upgrade in facilities and the fact that the Tournament would be held in Boston and not a suburb 35 miles away can only help with attendance. This should help draw more students to the game and drum up a bit more local interest from Bruins fans and other local college programs. Even if the NCAA decides to continue to shoot itself in the foot, holding the Northeast Regional Final at 8 PM on a Sunday night, you have to figure more fans would be able to get to the Garden than the DCU Center.

Plenty of other NCAA postseason tournaments are held in one of Boston's professional sports stadium -- men's basketball (this year at the Garden), men's lacrosse (this year at Gillette) -- so why is college hockey's postseason still run out of small, regional cities like Worcester, Bridgeport, Manchester and Albany? College hockey needs to think bigger.

* The NCAA uses some suspect accounting principles as far as reporting Regional attendance. The Regional Semifinals attendance totals are counted twice even though only roughly 1/2 of those people show up for just one game or the other and the NCAA gets half the paying customers for the Semifinals.

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