The Xcel Energy Center (also known as "The X") is a multi-purpose arena, located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is named for its locally based corporate sponsor Xcel Energy. With an official capacity of 17,954, the arena has four spectator levels: one suite level and three general seating levels. The building is home to the NHL's Minnesota Wild and is the former home of the NLL's Minnesota Swarm.
The arena is owned by the city of Saint Paul and operated by the Wild's parent company, Minnesota Sports & Entertainment. It is on the same block as the RiverCentre convention facility, Roy Wilkins Auditorium and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, in downtown St. Paul. It also served as official home to the 2008 Republican National Convention.
The arena opened on September 29, 2000. It was built on the site of the demolished St. Paul Civic Center. The push for a new arena in Saint Paul grew after the National Hockey League's Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas. Saint Paul unsuccessfully courted the NHL's Hartford Whalers and Winnipeg Jets under Mayor Norm Coleman, but the Civic Center was an obstacle to both deals.
In order to get an NHL expansion team, Saint Paul needed to build a new arena. After several failed attempts to get funding, the project was funded by the state in April 1998. The state gave Saint Paul a no interest loan for $65 million of the $130 million project, though the state forgave $17 million of that loan in exchange for high school sports championships played at the arena.
The Minnesota Wild played their first game at the arena on October 11, 2000, against the Philadelphia Flyers. The game ended in a 3-3 tie. Peter White scored the first goal in the arena while Darby Hendrickson scored the first goal for the Wild. The Wild's first win at the arena came on October 18, 2000, where they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5. It wasn't until April 14, 2003, when the Wild played in their first playoff game at the arena. In that game, the Wild suffered a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. A week later, on April 21, 2003, the Wild won their first playoff game 3-2 on an overtime game-winner by Richard Park.
In 2004, it was named by ESPN as the best overall sports venue in the U.S. The 10 millionth person passed through the gates on July 3, 2007.
The Twin Cities were selected as the hosting metropolis for the 2008 Republican National Convention on September 27, 2006 and the arena was chosen as the main venue. The Republican National Convention was held here on September 1–4.
In 2010, a Minnesota Wild game at the 'X' was listed as the third best stadium experience in North America, according to the ESPN Magazine. First on the list went to the Minnesota Twins and Target Field.
On April 26, 2015, the Wild won their first playoff series at the arena, defeating the St. Louis Blues 4-1 in game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The arena played host to the politically motivated Vote for Change Tour on October 5, 2004, featuring performances by Bright Eyes, R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (with special guest John Fogerty and unannounced guest Neil Young).
The Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA used the Xcel Energy Center during the 2016 WNBA Playoffs, and played a full season in the arena in 2017, as their home arena, Minneapolis' Target Center, was going through renovations.
The concourse areas contain a hockey jersey from every high school in Minnesota hanging on the wall, reflecting the "State of Hockey." Surrounding the arena at all four corners are "crows nests." One features an organ built into the shell of a Zamboni and is played during Wild games. The second nest features a lighthouse which houses a foghorn that is blasted when the team takes the ice before games, for all Wild goals, and after a victory. The third is often used for the "Let's play hockey!" announcement before puck drop each game, along with game ops interviews, announcements, and fan contests. The fourth provides an additional stage for various uses.
Prior to its opening, the arena installed an integrated scoring, video, information and advertising display system from Daktronics, based in Brookings, South Dakota. The system includes a large LED circular, center-hung scoreboard with multiple displays, nearly 1,100 feet (340 m) of ribbon display technology mounted on the fascia and large video displays outside the facility. The center ice display was replaced during the summer of 2014. An array of 10 LED screens with the largest measuring 37.5 feet wide by 19 feet high. In the Summer of 2015 the arena began replacing every seat in the building with cushioned seating. This project was finished by early 2016.