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Xcel Energy Center, Twin Cities ready to host Draft

by Greg Ramirez / Dallas Stars

Walt Disney World will have to take a back seat on Friday and Saturday as the place where dreams come true. That’s because the NHL will be holding the Entry Draft at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, in an event many young players have been dreaming of their whole lives – getting a shot to play in the NHL. For many hopeful draftees, getting to this point took hard work, commitment, and a high level of passion for the game of hockey.



Similarly, for the Minnesota Wild and the cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul - the process of hosting an event of this magnitude was years in the making. In fact, according to Minnesota Wild vice president of communications and broadcasting Bill Robertson, the Wild first approached the League about hosting the Draft as far back as 2007.

“We went to Columbus, who hosted the Draft in 2007, and took a look at their operation,” Robertson recounted. “From that time forward, we have been poised to host the Draft and put the official bid in three years ago. We petitioned them pretty strongly that we wanted to host it in either 2010 or 2011.”

On April 10, 2010, all that hard work paid off as the Minnesota Wild were officially selected to host the most important event for hockey’s future. On Friday and Saturday, the real work begins as the challenges of hosting the Draft unfold.

“In the St. Paul-Minneapolis market we have to use both cities because of the hotel situation, so proximity to having everything located in one area is hard to do,” Robertson said. “We’ve had to spread out the hotels and the headquarters for the League, but at the same time, Minneapolis-St.Paul work so well together and are very close in proximity that it really isn’t much of a problem.”

Despite the logistical challenges, the Wild are anticipating a capacity crowd for the first round on Friday, and are hoping to have somewhere between 7,000-10,000 for the second through seventh rounds on Saturday. If the Draft is that well attended on the second day, it will be the largest crowd for the second draft day in NHL history.

Overall, hosting the Draft in the Twin Cities is just part of the overall strategy the Minnesota Wild have put together to become a more global franchise – a goal Robertson pointed out, has been in place the past few years.

“Last season, the club [Minnesota Wild] opened the season in Finland against Carolina, this year we are hosting the NHL Entry Draft,” Robertson said.

If the Draft turns out to be a success, the Wild will undoubtedly have a bigger fish in mind – the NHL Winter Classic.

“We’re poised and ready to host the NHL Winter Classic in the future. This will be the best market in all of sports to host that event,” Robertson boasted.

For now the Wild will have to settle for the Draft, which Robertson expects will be a resounding success. The economic impact of the NHL Draft is expected to be substantial, bringing in an estimated $10 million to the area.

“Number one, the Xcel Energy Center has an excellent track record of hosting world-class, premier sporting events and concerts – this is another one of those types of events,” Robertson said. “This marketplace has hosted Super Bowls, Frozen Fours, Final Fours, the World Series, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Western Conference Finals, high school hockey tournaments, etc.”

As Minneapolis-St.Paul prepares to add to their impressive repertoire of events, remember that for the players and the staffs involved, Friday and Saturday are the culmination of years of planning and hard work.

Neither Mickey Mouse nor Goofy could dispute that.


Facts about Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota:
Population: 3.5 million
Square miles: 6,300+
State Bird: The Common Loon
State Motto: “Le Etoile-du nord” (the star of the north)
Origin of state name: Named after a Sioux Indian word meaning “sky-tinted water” in reference to the many lakes in the area.
- Minnesota was admitted as a state on May 11, 1858
- Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to 19 of the state’s 20 Fortune 500 companies – including Target Corp.
- Minneapolis-St. Paul was rated at the #1 healthiest city in the United States (American College of Sports Medicine).

Facts about Xcel Energy Center
Capacity: 18,064 (hockey)
Year Opened: September 2000
- Sits on six acres.
- Over 500 panes of glass make up the façade.
- Was named “Best NHL Arena” by Sports Business Journal in 2006 and has been nominated eight times as the “Arena of the Year” by concert promoters.
- Hosted the 2008 Republican National Convention.





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