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Men's Elite Eight at the Ralph

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Here's an excerpt from GFH editorial on the Elite Eight attendance:

In other words, neither Grand Forks nor The Ralph should stop seeking out other national- and world-class events.

First, the success measure. The championship game Saturday aired on CBS-TV. It was seen by 3.5 million people, a "product placement" for the Engelstad Arena and Grand Forks beyond anything local dollars could buy.

In addition, the coaches and teams seemed satisfied with the hosting, judging by news reports. The community's general friendliness and The Ralph's always-impressive size and scale seemed to make up for the low turnout, and let the coaches and players leave town happy with the results.

The fact is, the coaches and players probably weren't expecting big turnouts, because they knew as well as anyone that the tournament featured no local teams.

It would be hard to imagine a tournament breaking worse for attendance. UND not even making the regionals. No NCC or even MIAA school making it. The one team with busloads of fans, Findlay, losing in the first round. Even schools that brought more than a dozen fans, like Metro State and Cal Poly Pomona lost in the first round. Tarleton State, the only school that brought its band, losing in the second round.

All 23 Division II conference commissioners were at the tournament, watching from a suite. Division II is considering a winter championship festival (football, volleyball), so the commissioners should have had a first hand look at the Betty and Alerus. It will be interesting if the Ralph or the Alerus will be bidding on future Elite Eights. With the current perception of coaching at UND, a Women’s Elite Eight would probably be much more anticipated then a men’s tournament and yield better attendance.

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It will be interesting if the Ralph or the Alerus will be bidding on future Elite Eights.  With the current perception of coaching at UND, a Women

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The FM TV channels had reports tonight about the DII Elite Eight hosted by UND that only drew 4,500 fans. That set an attendance record for the least number of fans attending a DII national basketball tournament. Wasn't there 7 games played at the Ralph, it must have been embarrasing! Mmm, not very good for any type of national exposure is it?

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Yeah, it sucks that Grand Forks, ND was mentioned on national TV hundreds of times. Not to mention all of the press releases, news paper articles and a season of all DII teams in the nation shooting to make it to Grand Forks. Nope, no exposure for the city or state at all.

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Not the best publicity for Grand Forks (or Fargo for that matter), but the Fighting Sioux hockey team gets a few plugs from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Virginia Union sees parallel universe in Grand Forks

It's not true, technically, that Grand Forks, N.D., resides entirely in another universe. But it certainly felt that way during the week Virginia Union laid waste to the rest of Division II's best basketball teams.

...

Maybe it's understandable that the good people of Grand Forks (think of the movie "Fargo" if you want a sense of the local patois) weren't entirely taken by the D-II event in town, though UND is D-II in all sports but hockey.

...

Saturday night, across the Red River that separates Grand Forks from East Grand Forks, Minn., Whitey's Wonderbar featured an even more intense, and surreal, atmosphere. While Louisville and Illinois set the sports world a twitter with jaw-dropping comebacks, all TVs were tuned to UND vs. Boston College.

An early scoring barrage by the Fighting Sioux sent whoops of joy through Whitey's and out over the frozen Red River. Two and a half hours later, a 6-3 win and a trip to the Frozen Four was in the pockets of the elated fans. All was right in the universe . . . at least this particular one.

Incidentally, the columnist was wrong about the championship game attendance in Bakersfield the previous year, as it was only 1653, not 5958, which was the whole tournament's attendance in 2004.

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