The national sports spotlight will once again shine on downtown Allentown and the Greater Lehigh Valley when the PPL Center hosts the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Division 1 Men's Ice Hockey Regionals.
“Following the success of hosting the American Hockey League's All Star Classic this past January, this is another tremendous opportunity to showcase PPL Center and the entire Lehigh Valley to hockey fans across the world,” said Jim Brooks, owner, BDH Development and Lehigh Valley Phantoms. “Being selected to host the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Regionals is a great honor and we are excited for the positive impact it will have on our community.”
While he said it’s too early to speculate on ticket sales or how many people the games would draw to the region, Gunnar Fox, general manager of PPL Center, said it would likely be comparable to the crowds that January’s American Hockey League Classic brought in.
He noted that both the Classic and the skills competition held at the arena sold out. The PPL Center seats about 8,500 people.
“We’re not sure how the Lehigh Valley will respond to this, but we hope it will be positive,” Fox said.
He noted that local fans have been very supportive of hockey in the Lehigh Valley and he has no reason to believe that while different, these games will also draw in big crowds.
Not only do the games, which will likely be broadcast on ESPN, bring national attention to the Greater Lehigh Valley and downtown Allentown, Gunnar noted that such events bring people.
With collegiate hockey, the city can expect an influx of players, support staff, families and team supporters, all of which would be patronizing local restaurants and businesses and staying in local hotels.