Monday, March 26, 2007

You have Xcel-ed, Young Grasshoppers!

I spent a glorious Saturday evening in St. Paul, Minnesota at "Insert-Corporate-Name-Here" Arena, better known as the Xcel Energy Center, which is by far the prettiest indoor arena I have ever seen.  I'd heard many good things about "The X" before I ever set foot in the place, but once I got inside, I was blown away by the sight lines, the amenities, and the overall atmosphere, in spite of the fact they charged me $38 (plus "convenience" charge) for a next-to-last row nosebleed seat.  This place is fucking gorgeous inside and out, and I was VERY impressed—if our new Sprint Center is anything like this joint, we're in for a real treat here in K.C. later this year...

It was also fun to be around people who actually gave a shit about hockey for a change.  The Minnesota Wild crowd was the polar opposite of the Des Moines crowd on Friday—enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and downright rabid.  Even the good people of St. Louis—where I attended a Blues game earlier this season—don't hold a candle to the Twin Cities' faithful.  To be fair, St. Louisans haven't had a lot to cheer about the last couple years, but the Minnesota folks really know their hockey and are passionate about it—how they went damn near ten years without an NHL team is unfathomable.

As for the building itself, it's an awesome place to watch a game. Everything is first-class here, and the place just oozes hockey.  They put a lot of effort into honoring the area's hockey history here, dating way back to the horse-and-buggy days.  The arena is very stately, and I loved the little extras they threw in, like the four "crow's nests" on each corner of the building, one of which houses a Zamboni-shaped organ (the musical kind), and another that resembles a lighthouse-type structure which houses the horn that goes off after every Wild goal, complete with fog machine.  Add to that some state-of-the-art scoreboard and video outfitting, and you have a very enjoyable hockey rink.  I imagine this would be a pretty nice concert venue as well.

I also had a chance to check out St. Paul's riverfront area, which is quite cool.  Minneapolis seems to always get all the glory, but St. P certainly doesn't suck.  Well done, St. Paul—I had a great time.  A hearty "Bravo!" from yours truly...

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