NHL ice hockey team the Minnesota Wild has committed to an early 10-year extension of its lease deal for Xcel Energy Center through an agreement that is set to see its rent payments decrease at the Saint Paul arena.
The original lease between the City of Saint Paul and the Wild was scheduled to run through 2025, but the new agreement with the council will now take this through to 2035. Xcel Energy Center first opened its doors on September 29, 2000, when the Wild made its NHL debut in a preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks.
With the extended lease, the Wild will continue to pay over 80% of all principal and interest payments and be responsible for capital maintenance in an effort to maintain Xcel Energy Center’s status as one of the most fan-friendly facilities in North America.
The Wild will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day operation of Xcel Energy Center, and the City of Saint Paul will continue to own the 17,954-capacity arena, as has been the case since it first opened.
The Star Tribune newspaper said that through the city refinancing arena bonds at a lower interest rate and extending the team’s lease, the Wild’s annual rent payments will drop from nearly $9m (£6.9m/€8m) per year to less than $4m per year.
The Wild organisation also manages the Saint Paul RiverCentre and the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium. The complex is the only one in the world to be certified by LEED, Green Globes and APEX/ASTM.
“For two decades, the Minnesota Wild has been an incredible partner in driving vitality to downtown, and enriching not only our capital city, but our entire state,” Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement. “I am thrilled to extend this partnership and ensure the nearly two million visitors who join us each year can continue to experience all that Saint Paul has to offer.”
Speaking to Wild.com, team owner and chairman Craig Leipold said the club is set to explore improvements for Xcel Energy Center in an effort to enhance the home-ice advantage. “This has always been a building, because of the fans, and the crowd and the noise factor, that has always been hard to play in,” Leipold said.
“We will take a really hard look to see what we can do differently to see what other teams are doing within their arena to create the kind of excitement that we want to have. We want to make sure that we’re not getting tired with the same stuff, so we’re going to spend a lot of time to see what other arenas are now doing that we can do.”
Image: Minnesota Wild