Xcel Energy Center – Minnesota Wild

by | Feb 16, 2016 | Blake Benzel, Hockey, NHL | 0 comments

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Age Hasn’t Cracked the Xcel Energy Center

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.

Food & Beverage 4

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.

Atmosphere 5

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.

Neighborhood 5

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.

Fans 4

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.

Access 5

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.

Return on Investment 4

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.

Extras 5

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Food and Drink Recommendations

Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub

258 7th Street West

St Paul, MN 55102

(651) 292-9916

http://www.tomreidshockeycitypub.com/


Herbie’s on the Park

317 Washington St.

St. Paul, MN 55102

(651) 726-1700

https://www.herbiesonthepark.com/


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Entertainment Recommendations

Science Museum of Minnesota

120 Kellogg Blvd. W.

St. Paul, MN 55102

(651) 221-9444

https://www.smm.org/


Landmark Center

75 5th St. W

St. Paul, MN 55102

(651) 292-3233

http://www.landmarkcenter.org/


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Lodging Recommendations

 

Hotel 340

340 Cedar St.

St. Paul, MN 55101

(651) 280-4120

http://interqueen.net/id-334446.html


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Crowd Reviews

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Stadium Info

Xcel Energy Center
175 West Kellogg Boulevard
St Paul, MN 55102

Minnesota Wild website

Xcel Energy Center website

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity: 18,064

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