- Jared Townsend
Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center – Minnesota State Mavericks
Photos by Jarred Townsend, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center
1 Civic Center Plaza
Mankato, MN 56001
Minnesota State Mavericks men’s hockey website
Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center website
Year Opened: 1995
Experiencing Mankato Hockey at Verizon Wireless Center
Since opening its doors in 1995, Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, Minnesota has served as home to the Minnesota State Mavericks hockey team (both men’s and women’s). The 5,280-seat venue located downtown replaced All Seasons Arena, a much smaller venue built in 1973 on the Minnesota State University Mankato Campus. Today All Seasons Arena serves as the team’s practice facility.
Over the past 20 years, Verizon Wireless Center has seen its fair share of name changes because of altering sponsorships – having previously been known at different times as Mankato Civic Center (95-98), Midwest Wireless Center (98-07), and Alltel Wireless Center (07-09).
Needless to say, if the arena’s walls could talk, they’d tell you the quintessential story of Midwest hockey: devoted fans who have over the years, watched the Mavericks battle against opponents in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) conference. In recent years, the team has experienced a renewed amount of success, earning conference tournament championships in both 2014 and 2015.
Note: In 2019, the venue name changed from Verizon Center to Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center.
Food & Beverage 4
While Verizon Wireless Center may not have as many food options as some other hockey arenas, it serves up quality. The Lonestar Brat is a highlight, featuring a coney bun with BBQ pulled pork, jalapenos, and shredded cheese ($4.75). Another great choice is the Pulled Pork Nachos ($5.50), and if you wish, you can add jalapenos, onions, and additional BBQ sauce.
Other interesting highlights include the Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadilla ($4), the Buffalo Chicken Wrap (5.50), the Black Bean Quesadilla ($4), and the Caesar Chicken Wrap ($5.50). Meanwhile, your more basic options are as follows: Hot dog ($3.75), chicken strips with either ranch, honey mustard, or blue cheese ($5), cheese curds ($5.50), nachos ($3.50), popcorn ($3), potato chips ($1.50).
Pizza fans need not despair, Pizza Ranch serves by the slice ($3 to $4), with options including Pepperoni, Sausage, Cheese, and Roundup.
Being located off campus has its benefits, as Verizon Wireless Center is allowed to sell alcohol and thus, features a full bar. 16 oz cans of beer cost between just $5 and 6 dollars. $5 options include Bud Light, Budweiser, Coors Light, and Golden Light, while $6 options include Stella Artois, Organ Grinder, and Stella Artois Cider. Meanwhile, on tap (all $5), you’ll find Organ Grinder and Mad Butcher IPA. Another interesting bar option: is wines from Chankaska Creek Ranch, a winery located in Kasota, Minnesota.
And what would a hockey experience be without dessert? Frozen custard from Culver’s is a favorite, especially for kids attending the games. Overall, food and beverage pricing is very affordable, and the food is superb.
As with most collegiate hockey venues, Verizon Wireless Center’s atmosphere comes to life thanks to the fans and the action on the ice. The view of the rink is spectacular and there’s hardly a bad seat in the house. No matter where you are, you feel close to the action.
The arena’s corridors, however, are a bit narrow and not the most visually appealing (concrete flooring and brick walls for the most part, albeit the floor, does feature some interesting painted designs here and there). Otherwise, the atmosphere is great in the stands, yet is a much larger letdown elsewhere in the arena.
Verizon Wireless Center is located in a great part of the downtown area and within walking distance of many other Mankato hotspots – many of which you can also access by parking in the ramp of the Civic Center Plaza (where the arena is located within).
Popular restaurants in the area include Olives Restaurant (Mediterranean), Number 4 America Bar & Kitchen (an upscale bistro & bar), the Bicker Inn (popular Irish pub), Rounders Sports Bar & Grill, Pub 500 (bar with live music), New Bohemia (features great tap options).
Aside from the hockey arena, Civic Center Plaza also features reception and banquet halls, a conference center, hotels, and other amenities. Overall, it’s a great part of town that’s kept up well. There’s plenty to explore in the area.
Fans are loyal, engaged, and quick to participate verbally in matches. You can expect them to know the players by name, and cheer them on accordingly.
After experiencing a considerable amount of success during the 70s and 80s, Mankato hockey has recently returned to success under head coach Mike Hastings. During both the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons, the Maverick’s men’s team has claimed conference tournament championships. Meanwhile, Coach Hastings has won over 60% of his games since taking over in 2012.
The games seem to be decently attended, albeit there were a noticeable number of empty seats when I went. However, the fans who did attend seem highly devoted and most are probably regulars on a game-to-game basis.
Access is great. There are a couple of nearby parking garages and if spots are available, one of the nearest garages within Civic Center Plaza provides free parking during the games. The only drawback, however, is that the ramp can perhaps fill up fast and if you arrive late, you’ll want to find another lot or park on the street. Otherwise, there are a couple of other lots in the area where you can expect to pay no more than $5 for parking. No matter where you park, however, you really shouldn’t expect to walk more than 2 to 3 blocks to get to the arena’s main entrance.
Return on Investment 4
On average, tickets cost around $16, and no matter what section you’re in, you’re bound to have a good seat in the house. Once you get in, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the affordable concession prices – whether it’s a beverage (i.e. beer) or one of the amazing food items. Overall, the whole experience is reasonably priced and your enthusiasm for what happens on the ice will likely determine the level of satisfaction you leave Verizon Wireless Center with. It’s not particularly the most impressive arena (the corridors can be bland), but it gets the job done.
Walking around the narrow corridors of the arena, you’re likely to notice some wall wraps sporting imagery of Mavericks hockey players on the brick surface. It adds an interesting touch to otherwise, somewhat uninteresting parts of the arena. Another interesting tidbit about recent Mavericks history is the fact that they’ve remained in the WCHA, even after 2/3rds of the conference’s member teams jetted either for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference or the Big 10 in 2011.
Meanwhile, as other teams including Bowling Green State University and North Michigan settled into the division, the Mavericks remained resilient throughout – in recent years, reaching new heights of success under current head coach Mike Hastings. For that, they deserve much credit.
Verizon Wireless Center isn’t as flashy as more modern hockey arenas, but the point is, it gets the job done. Whether it’s the game ticket ($16) or the concessions (all very affordable), you can have an enjoyable experience among the great fans at this arena without having to worry about spending too much.