Last reviewed December 2010
Resources on Minnesota Issues
NHL Hockey in Minnesota and the Xcel Energy Center
This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference
Library on a topic of interest to Minnesota legislators. It is designed
to provide an introduction to the topic, directing the user to a variety
of sources, and is not intended to be exhaustive.
The Minnesota North Stars were a part of the National
Hockey League's (NHL) first expansion franchise. This expansion
doubled the NHL's size from six teams to twelve. The Minnesota North Stars played
their first home game in the newly constructed Metropolitan Sports Center
(Met Center) in Bloomington, Minnesota on October 15, 1967. The Met Center was home to
the Minnesota North Stars for 26 years. At the end of the 1993 season
the team was moved by team owner Norm Green to Dallas, Texas. The final home game
for the Minnesota North Stars was played on
April 13, 1993. Demolition of the Met Center began on December 13, 1994.
In 1995, as part of an effort to return professional hockey to Minnesota,
St. Paul joined in the bidding wars to attract the Winnipeg Jets to
Minnesota. Their efforts fell short due in part to the fact that the
St. Paul Civic Center was considered inadequate for a NHL team. In
December of 1995, the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix.
In November of 1996, St. Paul decided to try again; an investment group, headed by Robert Naegele Junior,
applied for an expansion team. Hopes were raised in December of 1996, when Peter Karmanos,
the owner of the Hartford Whalers,
indicated that he considered St. Paul to be a very viable place to move his team.
In 1997, efforts were made to get state money to either renovate the existing arena or
to construct a new one. Both of these efforts failed.
People seeking to secure a team for St. Paul were again faced with disappointment when in May of 1997 it was
announced that Raleigh, North Carolina would be the new home for the Whalers.
This disappointment was short-lived when on June 25, 1997 the NHL announced its final approval for a new
St. Paul hockey franchise. In 1998, the state approved an interest-free loan of $65 million to assist with
nearly half of the costs related to building a new arena. As allowed by the legislation the team reduced its
state loan payment obligation to about $48 million when they negotiated use of the arena with the
Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. The City of St. Paul funded its
share, $65 million, of the cost predominately through the issuance of sales tax revenue bonds.
With the financing secured demolition of the old arena began in June 1998.
The Minnesota Wild hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the new arena
on June 23, 1998. The new team played its first home game before a
standing-room-only crowd in the new Xcel Energy Center arena on October 11, 2000.
In January 2007, the Republican National Committee announced their selection of the Xcel Energy Center
arena in St. Paul as the site for their September 2008 GOP National Convention. In February 2007,
debt relief bills related to the Xcel Energy Center/RiverCentre were introduced in the Minnesota Legislature.
The GOP convention was mentioned as a partial reason for the debt relief request. The bills that passed were
vetoed by Governor Pawlenty. In 2008, the Minnesota Legislature passed another loan repayment bill that
was line item vetoed. The Governor did sign a bill that
allowed the city to continue the tax increment financing district around the arena.
State financial assistance for the St. Paul hockey arena was discussed by the 1997-1998 Minnesota Legislature.
The initial hearings were on
House File 1176/
Senate File 834. The final decision was passed as part of the Omnibus
Laws of Minnesota 1998, chapter 404, sections 81-82.
The initial debt relief bills that were introduced in 2007 were
House File 859. The loan forgiveness on the interest-free state loan for the arena itself would have
been worth approximately $42.7 million. An additional $55.8 million was also requested to pay off the
RiverCentre and parking ramp bonds. Much smaller amounts were passed by the Legislature and were included in
Minnesota 2007, chapter 135, article 1, section 3 (z) but this section was line item vetoed by the Governor.
The Legislature also passed
House File 2268.
Article 15, section 21 included grant funds related to debt service costs. The entire bill was vetoed by the
In 2008, additional loan repayment bills were introduced in
HF 2948. A $2,500,000.00 grant was included in
Article 5, Section 53 (z), but it was line item vetoed by Governor Pawlenty.
The passage of the Laws of Minnesota 2008,
chapter 366, article 5, section 36 enabled the city to continue the tax increment financing
district around the arena.
SIGNIFICANT BOOKS AND REPORTS:
Economic and Fiscal Impacts Analysis Related to the Location of a National Hockey
League Franchise in St. Paul: Final Report. St. Petersburg, FL: KPMG Peat Marwick,
1996. (GV848.4.U6 E36 1996)
Loan Agreement for the Saint Paul Arena Project. n.p.,1998.
(GV416 .S3 L63 1998) (Required by
Laws of Minnesota 1998,
chapter 404, section 23, subdivision 6.)
McCormack, Patrick J., and Randal S. Hove.
Hockey Issue Questions
& Answers. St. Paul: Minnesota Senate, Office of Senate Counsel & Research, 1998.
(GV416.S3 M33 1998)
Minnesota Stadium and Arena History.
Saint Paul, Minnesota: House Research Department, 2010. (GV415 .M56 2010)
Public Disclosure of Information Related to the Construction of a New Civic
Center Arena in St. Paul. St. Paul: Minnesota Wild, 1998. (GV416 .P83 1998)
Brown, Curt. "On 5-1 Vote, St. Paul's Council Approves Arena
Lease with the Wild." Star Tribune, January 14, 1999, p.
Egan, Mary Ellen. "Wild Economics (Hockey Team Values)." Forbes, December 8, 2003,
Havens, Chris. "St. Paul: Downtown - Making RiverCentre area the place to be - St. Paul was turned
down last year in its bid for debt relief on the RiverCentre and Xcel Energy Arena. It's going back to the
Legislature again, this time with a new pitch: A new entertainment district." Star Tribune,
January 24, 2008, p. 1B.
"The How and Why of Hockey in St. Paul." St. Paul Pioneer
Press, June 18, 1997, p. 11A.
Laszewski, Charles. "City Council Gives Its OK on Modified Arena
Lease." St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 14, 1999, p. 1D.
Medcalf, Myron P., and Curt Brown. "Xcel Center Debt Relief Sought." Star
Tribune, February 7, 2007, p. A1, A7.
Olson, Gary. "NHL Expansion History." St. Paul Pioneer
Press, June 18, 1997, p. 11D.
Rybin, Virginia. "Picture Clears After Wild Rush to Make Hockey
Deal." St. Paul Pioneer Press, April 11, 1998, p. 1A, 6A-7A.
Rybin, Virginia. "St. Paul's New Arena is Tale of Survival."
St. Paul Pioneer Press, September 27, 2000, p. 1A. Includes a
timeline leading up to the opening of the Xcel Energy Center arena. (Vertical File S148.10)
Rybin, Virginia, and Charles Laszewski. "Hockey Arena Deal Revised."
St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 16, 1998, p. 1A, 6A.
Weiner, Jay. "Best Deal in Town? Wild's Arena Lease." Star Tribune,
April 6, 1998, p. A1, A10.
ADDITIONAL LIBRARY RESOURCES:
For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the
S148.10 (Sports-Hockey), S150 (Stadiums)
For additional reports at the Legislative Reference Library, use this
Library catalog search: