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Frozen Four should heat economy

Published: December 13, 2013

Even those who don’t know a puck from a pansy should be pleased Tampa will host the 2016 Frozen Four — the NCAA college hockey championship.

When Tampa hosted the Frozen Four in 2012, it resulted in nearly 15,000 hotel visitor room nights and more than $10 million in direct visitor spending.

So the April 7-9, 2016, event should give the region a similar financial boost.

It is another example of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission’s importance.

Under executive director Rob Higgins, and with the help of political and business leaders, the agency has been impressive in recruiting sporting events that help fill hotel rooms, restaurants and local attractions.

The commission has landed numerous blockbusters, including Super Bowls, ACC football championships, the SEC basketball tournament and the NCAA women’s basketball Final Four. Nearly always the players, coaches and fans rave about their Tampa experience.

The commission’s stellar performance in holding the 2012 hockey championship surely played a role in it securing another.

But the nonprofit organization also targets events that may not be as high profile but bring plenty of visitors nevertheless.

For instance, as the Tribune’s Joey Johnston reports, Tampa Bay also was awarded six other NCAA championship events Wednesday. Among them the 2018 track and field regional, which will be held at the University of South Florida and is expected to generate about 6,000 hotel visitor room nights. Last summer Tampa hosted the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, which resulted in an estimated $3.7 million in direct spending.

Higgins says that since 2004 the commission has hosted more than 800 events that resulted in 961,454 hotel visitor room nights.

And the Tampa Bay Sports Commission is not devoted solely to events that attract tourists.

As the Tribune’s Nick Williams recently detailed, the nonprofit organization sponsors a number of high school events, including combines for football, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball and girls volleyball that help local athletes win scholarships.

So this nonprofit organization gives a boost to young athletes’ college prospects as well as to the local economy. It deserves credit for its continued diligence and success.