Visiting Minnesota? Everything you need to know here!
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06-07-2011, 07:49 PM
Hockey State Expat
Join Date: Aug 2010
OK, I've got the first two sections written up for FRB. Lemme know what you guys think. Agree/disagree, errors, etc.
So you're coming to Minnesota for a Wild game? Awesome! We'd love to have you in town. The X gets quite a few visitors, especially coming down from Canada, and so we get a lot of questions from would-be travelers. Hopefully this clears some things up.
Minneapolis and St. Paul
Yes! They are separate cities!
They're called "Twin Cities" for a reason: they are not the same. Minneapolis and St. Paul are distinct and unique cities, and although they make up one Metro area, you should know that they don't make up a continuous city. Their downtown cores are separated and you'll need to be able to move between them (unless you want to limit yourself to just one). Minneapolis is the bigger city, with a more interesting downtown full of skyscrapers and nightlife. St. Paul is a bit smaller, both in terms of population and urban density. It's sometimes compared (favorably) to European and Canadian cities for its layout, architecture, and cleanliness.
A lot of the things you might have heard about Minnesota are probably true. During hockey season? Yeah, it's pretty damned cold. "Minnesota Nice"––that unique form of passive-aggression we Minnesotans are famous for showing around strangers, Lutheran church congregations, acquaintances, and in-laws? It's a real thing, and you might run into it at your Wild game if you "step out of line" by doing things like cursing, booing loudly, cheering for your team, or showing emotion. Don't let it bug you, though! We really are nice people, and you'll probably just get everyone around you more into the game. Sometimes the Wild fans need a bit of encouragement to get pumped up about the team. Four years of utter mediocrity can do that, but it also happens in part because a lot of the spectators at games aren't Wild fans––they're hockey fans. Minnesota loves this game, and when we lost our North Stars (and, seriously, we are still bitter at former owner Norm Green) a lot of us started cheering for local schools and college teams instead of an NHL team. We'll still show up and cheer, but because of that history, the Wild aren't #1 in everyone's hearts.
The Xcel Energy Center
Lucky you, you get to see a game at the best arena in the NHL! Well, if ESPN is to be believed, anyway. The wide concourses are awesome, the sightlines are perfect from every seat, and there's a lot of cool **** to see like the Zamboni organ, or hockey sweaters from every high school team in the state on display on the suite level.
The Xcel Center is in downtown St. Paul. Unfortunately, St. Paul is not yet connected to Light Rail. Bus is an option––and your tickets let you ride for free for 2 hours before and after the game––but it's rather inconvenient. If you're not staying within walking distance, you'll generally want to drive to the game. In fact, you probably will want to have a car even if you're staying within walking distance of the X, so you have access to Minneapolis and to suburbs like Bloomington, where the Mall of America and airport are located. Driving to the Xcel Center is pretty simple; it's right off I-35E, very near I-94, and easily accessible by two of St. Paul's major roads, Sheppard Rd. and Kellogg Boulevard.
Parking near the Xcel Center can be fairly pricey on game nights ($10-15) but is generally fairly convenient, accessible, and readily available. The RiverCentre ramp is popular, since it is directly connected by skyway (that's an indoor tunnel over the street, for you southerners). I think the parking ramp at the Science Museum (directly across Kellogg Boulevard) is a nice alternative, as it is part of the same structure and is about a sidewalk block separated from the skyway entrance, and comes in $3 cheaper than the RiverCentre ramp. There's also a municipal ramp one block away (anyone know the prices?). Official parking at the Xcel Center is limited to season ticket holders with a parking pass.
Seats and Tickets
A lot of people wonder whether tickets are tough to come by in hockey-mad St. Paul. We did sell out our first four hundred preseason, regular season, and postseason games as a franchise, but that streak came to an end in 2010-11, with attendance dipping as low as 16,000 on a few nights. Still, the arena averaged about 99% of capacity even with the weak on-ice product, so it's probably a good idea to get your tickets ahead of time, unless you're planning on a Student Rush night (M-W nights in 2010-11, but could change). Cheaper tickets, particularly the highly-demanded upper-level ends, tend to go pretty quickly, while "good seats" are pretty readily available. The official TicketExchange, where season ticket holders post tickets they won't use, generally has prices relatively close to face value, and is often a good option to find seats even if the game isn't sold out yet. Single game, face value tickets range from about $25-50 in the upper deck, $75-85 in the lower bowl, and $90-100 on the club level. Prices will be higher for certain "premium" games, depending on the night and the team in town.
In terms of seats, there aren't any bad ones. Nothing obstructed, nothing too far to see, nothing awkward or inaccessible. I've sat on the glass and in the last row of the upper-deck corner, and I'd almost go so far as to say I preferred the view from the cheap seats to being on-the-glass, as it gives a better view of the far end of the ice. As with any arena, the sides tend to be easier to watch from than the ends, though they're also a fair amount more expensive.
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