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The NCAA's Frozen Four is a win for Hillsborough County tourism

 A young female Quinnipiac fan with blue hair cheers as she and an older man head into Amalie Arena in Tampa ahead of the Frozen Four.
Thomas Oullette
WUSF Public Media
Quinnipiac fans cheer as they head into Amalie Arena in Tampa ahead of the NCAA men's hockey championship.

The NCAA Division I college championship at Amalie Arena featured four teams from the North and their fans came to the greater Tampa Bay region by the thousands.

Thousands of hockey fans from around the country filled Amalie Arena in Tampa for the college hockey championship game.

The teams featured in the Frozen Four — University of Michigan, Quinnipiac University, Boston University and University of Minnesota — brought scores of fans from their snowy home states.

Visit Tampa Bay said Hillsborough County saw a roughly 40% increase in tourism compared to last year's Easter weekend. In addition, hotels in the Tampa area reported 80% to 90% capacity.

Some travelers were impressed by more than the games. Rich Junker is a Minnesota fan from the Twin Cities who was surprised to find out just how friendly Floridians can be.

fans head into amalie arena for the NCAA men's hockey national championship game.
Thomas Ouellette
WUSF Public Media
Fans head into Amalie Arena for the NCAA men's hockey national championship game.

"There’s Minnesota nice and then there is Florida hospitality," Junker said. "There's been a number of times where I was going around in a parking lot, trying to find a spot, and somebody would say 'Hey, follow me.' I think that says a lot about the state of Florida and the people in it."

Some of the fans were visiting Florida for the first time, while others like John Cerrido said seeing his Minnesota team play was the perfect reason to return to the Sunshine State.

"We were here a few years ago, and anytime there's a reason to come here we do," Cerrido said. "Tampa really knows how to make fans welcome. There is no better place to be than Tampa for a college game."

Fans collected outside of the stadium hours before the final game between Minnesota and Quinnipiac to enjoy the atmosphere, and show pride for their team.

The school spirit was audible as everyone piled into the sold-out arena.

Though many said they enjoyed their stay in the Tampa Bay area, the Quinnipiac fans will likely return home with better memories. The Connecticut team won their match 3-2 in overtime.

Thomas Ouellette is is the WUSF Rush Family / USF Zimmerman Radio News intern for spring of 2023.