Xcel Energy Center – Minnesota Wild
Born to be The Wild
The Minnesota Wild play in the Central Division of the Western Conference of the NHL. The team had its inaugural season in 2000, as an expansion team, replacing the Minnesota North Stars, who had relocated to Dallas in 1993.
Minnesota is known as the State of Hockey and its Capitol building is the 17,954 seat Xcel Energy Center in downtown Saint Paul. The Energy Center is part of a complex that includes the RiverCentre, Roy Wilkins Auditorium, the Ordway Center for Performing Arts and the Science Museum of Minnesota. It offers four levels of seating, with 74 suites encircling the seating bowl. The Energy Center has undergone several renovations over the last 20 years and features the latest in technology. This includes an LED scoreboard with multiple video boards and ribbon boards surrounding the seating bowl. In 2015 every seat in the arena was taken out and replaced cushioned bottoms, greatly enhancing fan comfort.
Food & Beverage 4
The concessions prices at the arena are well above what you would pay at an outside facility.
There are numerous sit-down options for dining within the Xcel Energy Center. These include the Jack Daniels Old # 7 Club, the Michelob Golden Light Fan Zone, Club Carvery and the Goal Line Spirits and Eatery.
We suggest that you have your full meal before the game at one of the many restaurants listed in the Neighborhood section, as they are all within easy walking distance of the arena. You can then use the Xcel Center concessions for snacks and a beverage.
The Wild do a fabulous job in incorporating the State of Hockey theme throughout the Xcel Energy Center. Much of the architecture within the arena suggests a Northwoods cabin feel and there are also frequent references to the many lakes Minnesota is known for.
The sport of hockey is recognized with the inclusion of hockey jerseys from every school in the state as well as historical exhibits on the sports roots in the state. Many of the original American players in the NHL were either born in Minnesota or played their college hockey in the state. Merchandise in the arena proudly proclaims Minnesota as the State of Hockey as well.
As is true in most state capitols, Saint Paul offers numerous attractions in and around the Xcel Energy Center. The Ordway Performing Arts Center is in the same RiverCentre complex as the arena. There are numerous state museums featuring specific facets of the state of Minnesota in the general area of the Xcel Center. No matter what your faith, a visit to the Cathedral of Saint Paul is well worth the visit. It dominates the hill overlooking the Xcel Energy Center and the Mississippi River and features stunning architecture.
Restaurants around the Xcel Energy Center include the Downtowner Woodfire Grill, Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub and a sentimental favorite, Mickey’s Diner, which was featured in the Mighty Ducks films. There are two lodging options within easy walking distance of the Wild’s home ice. These include the Saint Paul Hotel and The Holiday Inn Downtown Saint Paul.
To native Minnesotans, hockey is more than a game. It is a part of life. The game is a link to previous generations and to future generations as well, as children begin playing hockey at a young age. The term ‘hockey mom” was born here.
The Minnesota Wild’s fan base is representative of this passion for the game. They are as reverent singing the State of Hockey anthem, as they are for singing the national anthem. You’ll see State of Hockey flags waving right along with the Wild banners. After a goal, the fans’ cheers almost drown out the celebratory sounding of the foghorn. Nordy, the Wild’s mascot, is always on hand to lead the cheers and entertain the fans between periods.
The Hockey Lodge is the team store for The Wild. It also carries merchandise from the Minnesota North Stars era, The State of Hockey and It’s Our Ice lines.
There are numerous routes to the Xcel Energy Center:
From I-35 East North: Take Kellogg Boulevard exit and turn right on Kellogg.
From I-35 East South: Head south and exit onto I-94 West. Exit at Marion Street. Turn left at Kellogg Boulevard.
From I-94 West: Exit at Marion Street. Turn left at Kellogg Boulevard.
From I-94 East: Take Kellogg Boulevard exit.
Parking is available in the RiverCentre Parking Deck, which is connected to the Xcel Energy Center by a skybridge, which protects you from the elements. There are also numerous surface lots in the area.
Return on Investment 3
A night out at the Xcel Center is a very pricey proposition. The average cost of a standard ticket at a Wild game is $62.63. However, most games are sellouts and you will likely be buying your tickets on the secondary market, where tickets start at over $100 and can go much higher. The concession prices are also much higher than average. Parking around the Xcel Energy Center varies from $10 to $30 depending on the parking facility.
You can lower the cost by having your pregame meal at one of the many restaurants lining 7th Street West, which is only a block from the Xcel Center. Riding the light rail system to the game will only cost you $2.50 each way or nothing on Wild Ride Saturdays.
During the season kickoff weekend, the Wild hold Hocktoberfest. This street party includes hockey – themed skills tests, a jumbotron showing features about the upcoming season, music, contests, food and a biergarten.
In addition to being the home ice for the Wild, Xcel Energy Center hosts the state high school hockey championships. Past events have included the 2004 NHL All Star Game, the NCAA Frozen Four in 2002, 2011 and 2018, and the 2008 and 2016 US Figure Skating Championships. Adele, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift and Prince are just some of the performers who have done concerts at the center.
Each corner of the seating area features a “crow’s nest” with a designated function. One corner has an organ designed as a Zamboni and provides the musical entertainment for the crowd. A second corner features a lighthouse with a foghorn that is sounded when The Wild take the ice, score a goal or win a game. The third corner serves as a platform for the proclamation “Let’s Play Hockey!” before each game. The 4th corner is used for special presentations and performances by the Wild’s dance team.
You’ll notice several Peanuts character statues clad in Wild uniforms around the arena. Peanuts creator Charles Schultz was a Saint Paul native and the city has honored him by placing statues of his various characters throughout the city.
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.
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Food and Drink Recommendations
The Saint Paul Hotel
350 Market St.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Holiday Inn St. Paul Downtown
175 7th St. W
St. Paul, MN 55102
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Latest Crowd Reviews
Fifteen years later, the Xcel Energy Center remains one of the premier arenas to enjoy a National Hockey League game.
A nice arena in a hockey hotbed. Xcel Energy Center boasts a nice welcoming atrium which features plenty of screenings for current Wild moments. Nice banners of the Wild history can be found going up the escalator, although not a great place for them. Plenty of nods to local high school and NCAA hockey. Plenty of attention to little details. Hardly any exposed concrete in the whole building. Lighthouse inside at the top corner is a nice touch. Fans pack the place but are pretty reserved and quiet throughout.