St. Paul and not its twin city, Minneapolis, is home to the Xcel Energy Center. This is where the Minnesota Wild, a National Hockey League (NHL) franchise play professional ice hockey. The team is the only permanent tenant, but not the only sports group that uses the arena.
The fact is that Xcel Energy Center, known by locals as “The X,” also hosts a variety of high school sporting events. These include ice hockey for boys and girls volleyball. Of course, the ice is removed when the game with the ball is played.
Interestingly, “The X” has a seating capacity of seventeen thousand nine hundred fifty-four for hockey and for “box lacrosse,” as well. Capacity seating for concerts can range from twelve thousand nine hundred ninety-nine for an end-stage performance to twenty thousand five hundred fifty-four when the performance is moved to center stage.
Graphic via fameimages
This modern, midtown arena first opened for business on September 29, 2000. Construction of the building and the arena it houses cost one hundred seventy million dollars. That same construction would quite naturally cost considerably more today.
Xcel Energy Arena or “The X” has its name because a local corporation, Xcel Energy, bought and paid for the naming rights. The arena, modern in every way possible, has four spectator levels, one suite level and three general seating levels.
Additionally, there is a concourse area where the walls are literally covered with a hockey jersey from every high school in Minnesota. The huge electronic scoreboard which was produced and installed by Daktronics hangs from the center of the ceiling above the ice hockey rink below. It features multiple “ribbon displays” and lots of entertaining videos.
Each corner of the arena has “crow’s nests,” areas that harbor some interesting “extras” designed to enrich fan experience. In one corner there is an organ built into a Zamboni ice shaving machine. The organ is played exclusively for the enjoyment of fans of the Wild.
A second corner features a lighthouse with a foghorn that goes off when the Wild skate onto the ice or when they score a goal or win the game. Corner number three is used for the “Let’s Play Hockey” announcement that is made before the initial drop of the puck that starts a game.
Corner number four is currently not being used, but can be made ready for use by the Wild if and when it is needed.
In St. Paul, Minnesota the Excel Energy Center functions somewhat like it is “the center of the social universe,” at least in this small, but very livable, city.
Fans flock to “The X,” even on the coldest winter nights. The way the locals think about it is that experiencing a few chills is more than worth a chance to watch the home team play.
That kind of spirit from fans certainly bodes well for the Xcel Energy Center, better known as “The X.’
Graphic via minnesota