As for bus-able trips you'd be replacing trips of 7.5 hrs (MTU), 10 hrs (LSSU), 8 hrs (NMU) with trips of 2.25 hrs (St Cloud), 3.75 hrs (Duluth) and 4.75 (Omaha). Is it the end of the world? Of course not. Is it desirable to travel farther? Definitely not.
The other thing I would say is that there was a stat that MSU's attendance was up by roughly 7% since the conference shift. Of course, that ignores the fact that the cost of tickets went down by 11% and there is no "premium game" pricing any longer either. This is at a time when this team has averaged 24.5 wins in the 4 full seasons of the new conference alignment. Up from the previous 4 year average of 16.5 wins per season. That's not a small improvement, that's a very big one.
This is all to say that there is enough evidence to confidently the interest in the team would increase playing teams that have traditional rivalries with Mankato. They would increase the revenues. And it's not a stretch to say that there would be a decrease in expenses just due to proximity. I don't need to ask anyone with the university to see that interest is waning. I can see it every game. I can hear it when I talk to people. I can feel it when I'm in the arena. I can't talk to buddies or co-workers about hockey because I don't know a single person that went to a university in the rest of the conference (and that's not abnormal).
Look, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with the conference. If it were just a competitive issue, I wouldn't think twice about staying. It really is the business side of it that I think the NCHC is a better fit for MSU. The geography makes more sense. The makeup of alumni makes more sense. The alignment of the other sports teams within the university makes more sense. The finances just make more sense. I truly believe the quality of the conference will go up (see what happened with the ECAC), but for all the other reasons, the NCHC make more sense for Mankato.