Fairfield athletic director Gene Doris said Thursday that the WBA will be a host site for the 2014 NCAA Hockey Regionals, marking the fourth time in six years collegiate postseason hockey games will be played there.
"We are really excited about it," said Doris, who will once again be partners with Yale in hosting the games.
In 2009 and 2011, the arena had the luxury of having Yale be a part of its four-team field and drew 16,956 and 15,487 fans, respectively, to lead all regional sites in those years. This past winter, and without the Bulldogs' presence, the WBA still managed to draw a combined 10,419 fans over the two days. The WBA seats 8,412 for hockey and about 9,000 for basketball.
"I was very impressed last year," Doris said. "It was the first time we were up against it (in terms of not having a local team). It just shows you how the hockey community enjoys watching hockey in Bridgeport."
In a week filled with bad news in the area due to Hurricane Sandy, Doris said he was delighted to deliver some good news to Howard Saffan, president of Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment and of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, about the 2014 NCAAs.
"Howard was very excited when I sent him the news yesterday," Doris said.
Since Saffan's group took over running the WBA, they have taken some major steps to improving the building. A new scoreboard is in place -- but not quite running yet due to delays from the storm -- above center court that has been described as a mini-version of the one the Dallas Cowboys have at their new stadium. Also, a ribbon board has been added around the arena.
"It's a tribute to the arena as well as the institutions that we have the NCAA returning to our venue," Saffan said about the NCAA returning. "We believe the NCAA will see a totally new Webster Bank Arena, taking into consideration our 30-by-16 (foot) center-hung scoreboard as well as 800 feet of ribbon board, plus the Stags Club and, by next year, a new restaurant in the arena."
One of their top tenants, the Fairfield Stags, are impressed with the new additions.
"The arena has taken a very large step forward this year," said Doris, whose university signed a five-year contract extension with the WBA in May to continue playing Fairfield men's basketball home games there through the 2016-17 season. Fairfield has played home games at the site since 2001.
In other NCAA hockey news, Quinnipiac's Jack McDonald, the director of athletics and recreation, has announced that his school's High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center has been selected as the host site for the 2014 NCAA women's ice hockey championship.
"Quinnipiac is a perfect venue for the women's Frozen Four," said Katey Stone, U.S. Olympic women's ice hockey head coach for 2014. "Their hockey facility is first-rate and will accommodate all teams with ease."
Quinnipiac is the first ECAC hockey institution to host the NCAA women's Frozen Four on campus since its inception in 2001. St. Lawrence hosted the 2007 championship at Lake Placid, N.Y.
firstname.lastname@example.org; http://twitter.com/wspaxton; http://blog.ctnews.com/paxton/; Michael Fornabaio also contributed to this story.