Open since September 29, 2000, the Xcel Energy Center has been host to many of the State of Hockey's greatest moments in its 15 year history, including a few memorable playoff runs by the Minnesota Wild. The "X," as it's referred to, has hosted 18,000+ rabid hockey fans every game night since its opening, and the experience of enjoying a game there still has not lost its luster. Fifteen years later, the Xcel Energy Center remains one of the premier arenas to enjoy a National Hockey League game.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
One thing that the Xcel Energy Center is always reliable for is high quality food and beverages. From the lower bowl to the club level to the upper deck, there is no lack of quality options for fans to enjoy.
While all arenas have relatively the same food options everywhere you go (it's pretty hard to screw up a brat, or popcorn), the Xcel Energy Center certainly has their fair share of items that make them stand apart from the rest.
The Loon is a brat that is filled with cheese, wild rice and pork, offering a unique look at some staples of Minnesotan cuisine, and there is so much more to enjoy from walking tacos to Philly cheesesteak nachos to the beer cheese bacon burger or a Davanni's Pizza.
All of this is good, but the Xcel also "excels" at providing other places to dine. On the Club level you have the Jack Daniels club and the Carvery, both of which offer items you wouldn't find at your run of the mill concession stand, while the Bud Light Fan Zone offers an array of boneless wings and other, more traditional, fan favorites, and is open two hours prior to game time.
As far as drinks are concerned, you've got your typical availability of Coke products and beer at the concession stands. In addition to this, however, you have booths selling craft beers scattered around the arenas, and stations making cocktails.
There are plenty of options available to you at the Xcel Energy Center, regardless of where you're sitting. The Philly cheesesteak nachos are particularly enjoyable, but regardless of what you like, there's a concession stand for you somewhere within the friendly confines of the "X" and regardless of where you're sitting, if you can't find something to satisfy your cravings with a quick loop through the arena, then nothing is going to satisfy you anyway.
The Wild have really hung their hats on the "Home Ice Advantage" slogan that was borne out of their playoff run a few years ago, and it's quite the apt description of the atmosphere within the Xcel Energy Center. The place is raucous from the word go and it is the same regardless of the team's performance on the ice.
The stadium itself is laid out fairly similar to just about any other hockey arena. The thing that is quite nice about the Xcel Energy Center, however, is there truly is not a bad seat in the house. While the lower bowl seats are on much less of an incline, the upper level travels up more than it does out, giving even the cheap seats a fantastic view of the ice. The recently installed LED scoreboard spans the entire neutral zone, from blue line to blue line and has a massive display that is 19 by 24 feet and shows the arena feed from the game in glorious high definition. In addition to this, there is a massive HD screen out in the concourse by Gate One that shows both the game feed as well as a feed from the NHL Network.
While the addition of the scoreboard has done a lot for the immersion of the game, the stuff going on around the arena helps make it a complete experience. From the zamboni-looking organ to in-game giveaways to the traditions of the "Let's Play Hockey" introduction and the State of Hockey Anthem, there's always something going on around the arena to draw your attention during the down times.
If you want a good seat in the X, you're in luck. Pick a seat and it's almost guaranteed to be a good one. Because of how the arena is laid out, every seat is good, making seat selection an exercise in how close you want to get to the ice.
You just simply can't go wrong with this neighborhood. It's in downtown St. Paul, which provides you numerous options for diversions around the arena.
There are so many places to eat around the Xcel that you could spend hours deliberating where to go. Thankfully, that's why we're here. There are so many restaurants in the surrounding neighborhood that listing them all would be quite tiresome to parse through. Thankfully, there are a few that stand out above the rest. If you're looking for Italian fare, you can't go wrong with either Cossetta's or Pazzaluna -- the former being a bit less spendy and a bit less trendy. Also around the arena are the American Burger Bar, Greatwaters Brewing Company, Wild Tymes, and Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub, all of which are within walking distance and provide a great atmosphere and excellent food.
If you're in town for a few days and looking for something to do around the arena, there are a few good places to look. Directly across the street from the Xcel is the Minnesota Science Museum, which is always a great family option, and just down the street is the Minnesota Children's Museum as well. In addition to that, you have the two buildings that share the lot with the Xcel, Roy Wilkins Auditorium (a great place to see a concert) and the Ordway Theater (a great place to see a play). In addition, right behind the Xcel you also have the George Latimer Central Library, if you want to just have some quiet time to yourself.
The good news for fans is that, given the amount of things to do in downtown St. Paul, there is no lack of places to stay. Within walking distance of the Xcel are the Saint Paul Hotel, a Holiday Inn, as well as a few other less recognizable options. Of the available options, the Holiday Inn will give you everything you need without pricing you out and has the added benefit of being right across the street from the arena.
The thing you have to realize about Minnesota Wild fans is that they, for the most part, know hockey. I mean, they REALLY know hockey. This can take some of the fun out of the game at times, but it can also lead to a very fun experience with fans that not only know the team, but really know the game well.
While you can usually find a seat for the game, by the time the puck drops the stadium is generally full. The seating capacity is a little over 17,000, but its final capacity is about 1,000 people more because of all the standing room seating they've added. Regardless of the opponent, the place is full and is rocking.
Some days are obviously better than others, but the crowd at the Xcel Energy Center is engaged fully and is loud. You'll hear applause if the Wild score a goal, or if they simply kill a penalty and it's easy to remain engaged yourself, with this level of fan around you. The ushers are terrific in making sure that people are not walking up and down the aisles during the action and, for the full experience, make sure you get there before the drop of the puck to hear the "Let's Play Hockey" cheer and stick in your seat between the first and second periods to hear the State of Hockey Anthem.
With public transportation near and around the stadium and no lack of parking, the Xcel Energy Center might be one of the easiest stadiums in the Twin Cities to get to.
There are over 10 bus stops within walking distance of the Xcel, as well as a number of bars throughout the Twin Cities that offer shuttles to and from the arena, making the arena quite easy to get to.
Parking can vary, depending on how early you get there, but it ranges from $20 (for the indoor ramp across the street) all the way to free if you're lucky enough to find street parking in the outlying neighborhoods. On the weekends, street parking in the downtown area isn't metered, so there's also a chance that you could find parking on the street. That being said, prepare to spend between $10 and $20 on parking, depending on how close you want to get.
Entry into the arena is secure and easy. The security checkpoints are well labeled with the instructions that you need to follow and ticketing is just as easy.
Despite the congestion of the stadium (18,000+ moving around during intermission isn't always the most pleasant of experiences), moving around the stadium is quite easy. The concourses are large enough that, even when they're packed, it's easy to move around and you rarely get hung up in traffic. The restrooms are clean and easily accessible and there are special areas cordoned off for seating of those with special needs.
It's a professional sporting event, so if you want to go see the Minnesota Wild you're going to pay for it. That being said, there are a lot worse tickets you could be getting for your money.
For two people to go to a game, in the upper deck, you're probably looking at spending at least $70-$80 each on the experience, including food, drink, parking and so on. That being said, even the cheapest of seats will allow you a good view of the ice and even the upper level has very good food options available if you don't want to travel back down to the lower level.
One of the biggest extras that the Xcel Energy Center has is the history contained within. From the murals to the tribute to former Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard to the local hockey jerseys and Hobey Baker Award, the Xcel Energy Center is a shrine to the sport of hockey in Minnesota. The Hockey Lodge not only sells team merchandise, but also game-used items such as sticks, jerseys and gloves and there's enough going on around the arena to keep you entertained. Not only that, the Xcel Energy Center is also one of the leading professional sports arenas when it comes to green energy and sustainability.
Overall, the Xcel Energy Center may be aging a bit, but it's still one of the best places you can go to see a professional hockey game, let alone a sporting event. Friendly fans, good food and very easy access make this arena second to none.
St. Paul, Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center is home to the NHL's Minnesota Wild and the NLL's Minnesota Swarm. It was built in 2000 as the home for the Wild and is part of the Saint Paul RiverCentre, which also houses the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
The Xcel Energy Center has been the home of the Minnesota Wild since the team brought the NHL back to the Twin Cities in 2000. The arena was named as the #2 venue in the NHL by Stadium Journey Magazine for 2011, and the 7th best stadium on the overall Top 100.
Besides being the home of the Wild, you can also see the NLL Minnesota Swarm play here from January through May (if they are in the playoffs). Overall, it is a fantastic facility and still is one of the best, more than a decade after opening.
Great location, close lodging and an abundance of restaurants/bars. A truly all in one spot for everything. And no fooling on the ability to see and meet players outside the arean. Met Rob Blake and Anze Kopitar at the Herb Brooks statue, several players at The Liffey post game through the years. Awesome experience
For anyone who gets to go to this arena, you won't be disappointed. Great food options, wide concourses, and lots to do and look at during intermissions. Tickets can be pricey as this is the state of hockey. The food is pricey as well but their top shelf stuff is high quality. The fans are very knowledgeable and usually are approachable and willing to strike up a conversation. There isn't a bad seat in the house and plenty of standing room options as well. I also had the privilege of sitting in the Champions Club. Great food options up there and my favorite... free coffee after the second period.
Outside the stadium, parking is plentiful. Free parking is plentiful after 5PM if you are willing to walk a bit. Most free spots are north and east of the stadium. I would not advise parking on 7th street where all the restaurants and bars are as it will take awhile to get back on the highway. Late 2014, the light rail will be completed which will finally connect the twin cities together as well as the Minnesota Gophers campus. The "7th street experience" is a great area to grab a bite to eat and a beer before or after the game. Any type of restaurant or bar that you can think of is in this district.
I've been a Wild fan for just over a year now, and I've had nothing but great times at the X. Like many other reviewers say, you cannot find a bad seat at the place. I couldn't agree more. I've sat in all the sides of the arena, and you get a great perspective of the game no matter if you're sitting on one of the sides or ends, even in the upper sections. The food, while pricey, is good for what you pay for. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the arena is the horn that goes off when the Wild first take the ice, score a goal, and win a game. Absolutely nothing compares to hearing that horn in person. It gives me chills every time. Overall, I've had some "Wild" times at the X whether they have won or lost (They've won all 6 games I've been to this season; I must be their lucky charm). With the unforgettable experience I've had every time, this is probably one of my favorite arenas I've been to in my lifetime. Granted, this is my first NHL arena I've been to, but I've heard it's one of the better ones.
Hockey has a special place in the hearts of Minnesotans. It is, for all intents and purposes, the state sport. Sure, Minnesota has sports teams that have more history – the Vikings – and have been more successful – the Twins – but the Minnesota Wild hold a special place in the hearts of Minnesotans, and nothing exhibits that more than the mecca they’ve constructed to the sport they hold so dear.
this is the best arena, that's all I can say.
The review is extremely accurate. One of the best NHL rinks out there. With the green line now stopping nearby, easy to get to from Minneapolis. Tickets a bit pricy but secondary market provides alternatives.
258 7th Street West
St Paul, MN 55102
350 Market St
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426 Saint Peter St
St Paul, MN 55102
120 W Kellogg Blvd
St Paul, MN 55102
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St Paul, MN 55102
175 W 7th St
St Paul, MN 55102