Read through the last argument where D3 supporters voiced concerns about the long-standing rumor of combining the D1 and D3 Frozen Four sites and I have some thoughts as someone who has recently played in 2 D3 FFs.
First, Lake Placid is the worst venue by far. No D3 players, besides maybe one or two SUNYAC schools, want to play in Lake Placid. I can't emphasize enough how grateful we were to not play our FF in that venue. From friends who played for St. Norberts and the look of pictures the atmosphere is awful and moving to an olympic ice sheet after playing on NHL size all year sucks for both your conditioning and your systems. Needless to say, we enjoyed our spring break vacation the year it was held there.
Second, we played in Ridder and the Aud for our FF.
Ridder was a beautiful rink and our parents and alumni loved the fact it was in a big city, we have players from all around the country and it is difficult/expensive to get to places like Stevens Point in a weeks notice. It was a little demoralizing playing in a women's arena but the atmosphere for the championship was fun and the hotel/banquet were top notch.
Utica on the other hand was maybe the ugliest city I have ever seen and difficult for families to get too but they hosted a great tournament. The guys loved played in an AHL arena, it made us enjoy a rare moment of professionalism surrounding by videoboards and light productions. I guess attendance wasn't great but in the championship it seemed loud on the ice as both teams brought good amounts of supporters. Maybe that has to do with the size of the arena. Also the hotel was pretty poor, even by d3 standards.
Finally my point, every D3 player in the country would LOVE a D1/D3 FF Format. To those people concerned about feeling like we would be playing second fiddle, 95% of D3 teams play in front of family and 12 students every game, it would be very difficult for us to feel like we are playing second fiddle to anyone. D3 hockey is humbling to say the least. The opportunity to play in an NHL arena would be worth the trip in itself, to step on the ice of those hockey cathedrals would be awesome. Even if that means that the place feels empty. Most of the time curtaining off the top row would solve a majority of the problems. Maybe for the first time in most guys careers the could say they played in an NHL rink, that is something they can share with their kids someday.
My suggestion though is this though: Extend D3 regular season a week, then have D3 semi-Finals at On-Campus Sites, then have single Championship game in 2 weeks in between the D1 Semifinals and Championship game. There are a number of positives to that. (1) Allows 2 weeks for parents, alumni and fans to arrange travel. This is expensive and difficult to do in 1 week for many people, more time is better for everyone. (2) Big cities are cheaper to fly into and players enjoy being there much more than middle of nowhere towns. Also for those saying that California or Tampa is a problem, our parents spent every Christmas break in places like Livonia, MI or Chilliwack, BC. A trip to FL to watch their son play in an NHL rink would be a god send. (3) D3 players get the opportunity to get treated like professionals, something we never get. D1 players get to play in these beautiful rinks on big colleges, D3 guys play at the Valley Forum in Medford in a rink that is -10 degrees. (4) Attendance would be better. Offer the D3 game as included in the weekend pass for the D1 FF. I would be hard pressed to imagine hockey fans would rather sit in their hotel than go watch some really good hockey on that Friday night. Thinking back to 2015 when Boston was the host, a Stevens Point v. Trinity game would have been very well attended considering the amount of people who were already in town for D1, then add on top the 20,000 or so Trinity alumni in Boston/New York/Hartford. Would it be a sell out? Absolutely not, but it might top 6,000 which no D3 player would complain about. (5) Probably the most insignificant point but not surprisingly a lot of D3 guys are close friends with D1 guys, we played junior hockey together or grew up together. Hockey is a small world. It would be great to go watch some of our D1 buddies play on such a big stage and I am sure a lot of them would like to watch their D3 friends get a chance to shine.
At the end of the day D3 hockey is about athletes trying to squeeze out what is ever left of their hockey careers. The opportunity to play the final game of the season, in an NHL arena would be worth all of that. Will NCAA have to take a loss? Sure but it pales in comparison to what they are making as it stands. If I have missed anything feel free to let me know.