Photos by Greg Venuto, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Xcel Energy Center 175 West Kellogg Boulevard St Paul, MN 55102
Year Opened: 2000
The Wild State Of Hockey
The Minnesota Wild continue to play before hockey-crazed, sellout crowds at Xcel Energy Center. The building, while 23 years old, continues to shine as fans rock out to Shout after every Wild goal.
The team was born in 2000 following the departure of the original Minnesota North Stars who fled their home in Bloomington just outside the Twin Cities to relocate to Dallas in 1993. Minnesota has never had the privilege of seeing a Stanley Cup champion. The North Stars did reach the finals twice in 1991 and 81.
The arena is situated in downtown St. Paul unlike the Vikings, Twins, and Timberwolves who all play in Minneapolis. St. Paul, the capital of Minnesota, is home to Minnesota United FC of the MLS and the St. Paul Saints of the International League (Minnesota Twins AAA team).
Food & Beverage 4
There is a wide array of food and beverage choices. The sit-down dining options include Flynt & Kyndie, The Reserve, and The Michelob Golden Light Tap House. Wild Greens, The Deli, Wrecktangle Pizza, and City Burger are some of the other choices. Unfortunately, all are located on the Club Level with the exception of the Tap House and Wild Greens.
Some of the other options include local craft beer at MN Craft, local sausage at Market House Meats, Philly cheese steaks and pub chips, taphouse wings, Nordy’s Knots (traditional German pretzels), and Cookie Dough (JR’s Dough Shop).
Just for an idea of beverage prices, a bottle of water is $6, Domestic Beer is $12, Craft Beer is $13 and a large craft is $16.
The Xcel also offers fans convenient grab-and-go choices which are quickly coming to many stadiums. There is the Wild Market near Section 113 which features Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology so fans do not have to wait. Guests either insert their credit card to enter or hover their palm over an Amazon One device. The items selected are automatically linked to their credit card.
The State of Hockey theme is reinforced throughout the stadium. The concourse takes on a Minnesota vibe with an angled roof and wood beams. On the West Side, the arena recognizes every boys and girls high school program in the state with a display containing each jersey. There is also a tribute to the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. The concourse fills up well before game time and can get heavily congested.
The Xcel Center offers four levels of seating with 74 suites. There is a standing room section at the top of the lower and upper bowls with numbered countertops. The crowd is passionate and unlike some arenas, most fans are seated before the teams take the ice. There is a suite level and then two additional levels. The corners are broken up by a crow’s nest. The organist sits in one location and the other is a Lighthouse with a Fog Horn that lights up when the Wild scores. Fog billows out of the Lake Superior style Lighthouse and envelopes the arena leading up to the opening faceoff.
The arena unfortunately favors loud rock music to organ music during stoppages. On this visit, the organ was only played once per period. The mascot Nordy is either in his perch or roams the lower bowl and bangs his drum to encourage the “Let’s Go Wild!” chant.
Nordy at Xcel Energy Center, Photo by Greg Venuto, Stadium Journey
The current LED Video Board was installed in 2014. It is a typical center-hung scoreboard seen at most NHL venues. The only negative is it does not inform fans of the players who are on ice during the game.
The area around Xcel is probably the most vibrant part of the city especially at night with bars, restaurants, and hotels in the nearby vicinity. There is also the RiverCentre, Roy Williams Auditorium, and the Science Museum of Minnesota within walking distance.
There are three hotels (Courtyard Marriott, Holiday Inn, and Hampton Inn) just across the street. The historic, luxury St. Paul Hotel completed in 1910 is also nearby.
Two attractions worth visiting are the Cathedral of Saint Paul (the third-largest Catholic cathedral and sixth-largest church in the United States) and the Capitol Building. The Capitol offers free, 45-minute guided tours Monday through Saturday. The Minnesota State Capitol dome is the second largest self-supported marble dome in the world, behind Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
The Wild averaged 18,454 last year which translates into a sellout every night. The crowd is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and engaged. Fans turn on their cellphone flashlights at the end of the pregame ceremonies to illuminate the arena prior to the Wild taking the ice.
Prior to the game and in between periods, fans flock to the Hockey Lodge to purchase souvenirs and merchandise of their favorite team and players. The stores even stock some of the past Minnesota North Stars colors as the team has a Stars alternate jersey that they wore on this visit.
Each year in March, fans flood Xcel Energy Center for the state boys' high school hockey tournament. The overall attendance last year was a record-setting number of over 135,000 fans for 8 sessions.
Xcel Energy Center is nestled between two major freeways (Interstate 94 and 35E) making it easily accessible. The arena is serviced by two ramps: RiverCentre Parking Ramp and Kellogg Parking Ramp, both of which are directly connected to the complex. The building can also be accessed from several Metro Transit bus lines and the light rail Green Line. The light rail is about a 10-minute walk.
Bags, purses, and backpacks are not allowed. Clutches, wristlets, and wallets sized 4” x 6” x 1.5” or smaller are permitted. The facility is cashless.
There are 5 entry gates. Gate 1 is the largest and allows access to the main lobby. Gate 5 is reserved for the Bremer Bank Suite Level and RBC Wealth Management Club Level.
Return on Investment 4
Ticket prices are in the middle of the pack for NHL teams. Tickets could be as low as $50 for early season games on weeknights for the upper level, but the lower bowl will run $100 or more before fees. Food prices are in line with the going rate for NHL stadiums these days. There is a $6 happy hour deal where food and beer are discounted (16 oz beers, fountain soda, hot dogs, and pretzels with cheese) up to 30 minutes before faceoff. Parking can be found for about $15-$35 depending upon how close the lot is. Park Wiz is always a good option to find less pricey parking thru advanced purchase.
Xcel Energy also hosts the Minnesota State Hockey Championships and is home to the NCAA Frozen Four for the fourth time in 2024. A number of big performers have dates at Xcel. The Eagles, Jonas Brothers, and Madonna are some of the headliners in 2023-24.
The crow’s nest is a nice feature. The third platform features a special guest yelling “Let’s Play Hockey” to culminate the game.
The other highlight is the Peanuts Character statues clad in Wild jerseys as a tribute to Peanuts creator and avid hockey fan the late Charles Schultz (a St. Paul native).
Snoopy at Xcel Energy Center, Photo by Greg Venuto, Stadium Journey
Despite being over 20 years old, the arena seems relatively modern and up-to-date. With enthusiastic fan support in a rabid hockey market, Xcel Energy Center is clearly worthy of a Stadium Journey.