Sorry, I'm blushing along with 18,000 others:
But back to the task at hand: Choosing a new destination we can call Hockeytown, USA. Taking into consideration attendance, fan loyalty, a cozy relationship between the team and its region, a city that's just right for the NHL, and our choice is pretty clear. Saint Paul, Minn., home of the Minnesota Wild, fits the bill.
Thank you, Mayor NORM Coleman.
Since opening the doors of the well-appointed Xcel Energy Center (more on that later) in downtown Saint Paul on Sept. 29, 2000, the Wild have attracted 282 consecutive sellouts – that's every exhibition (21), regular-season (251) and playoff (10) match. Every single game, through Tuesday night, has sold out for all of their six-plus seasons. Amazing.
Amazing and rare in the world of professional (which includes the NCAA) atheletics.
The aura inside is pure hockey, with appropriate references to the history of the game during pre-game festivities. One never gets tired of the game presentation, which often feels forced or over-the-top at many of the other newer U.S. venues.
In Saint Paul we do not have to suffer an FM-radio boomer-voiced arena announcer like Dallas and Denver, cheerleaders in the aisles like in Atlanta, or scoreboards that explain what 'icing' is like in Anaheim.
Many of the downtown shops, restaurants and bars in St. Paul recognize the Wild with strong support, and two newspapers travel with the team during a time in which print outlets are cutting costs.
Our downtown sushi place has menu items named for Wild players. How's that for multiculturalism?