ST. PAUL (WCCO) – If you love hockey, St. Paul’s the place to be this weekend. The Xcel Energy Center is hosting the Frozen Four, the NCAA Div. I men’s hockey championship.
Four teams are vying for the top spot — Notre Dame, University of Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota and Michigan. There’s another winner that’s not on that list — St. Paul’s economy.
Visit St. Paul, the city’s tourism hub, predicts the economic impact of the Frozen Four will be around $10 million.
“We come on Wednesday,” said Helen Coleman.
“Because on Thursday, it’s a mob scene,” her friend Dave Hoffman added.
The couple from New York are college hockey fanatics — really. They belong to a group called College Hockey Fanatics.
“There’s like a little over 300 of us that belong,” said Coleman.
While they’re in town, Coleman and Hoffman will meet up with their club, watch great hockey and spend money.
“Probably $1,200-$1,500 probably when we get done with our room and cab and meals,” said Coleman. “It’s our vacation, so it’s worth it for us.”
In the stands at the X, Bill Lanigan was dressed in maroon and gold.
“UMD is my team all the way,” said the Duluth native.
He checked out Notre Dame, UMD’s Thursday competition.
“I’m pretty confident UMD and North Dakota can play for the championship Saturday night,” said Lanigan.
The Gophers aren’t in the Frozen Four this year, but Roseville resident and North Dakota fan Jon Klava doesn’t think it will hurt tournament turnout — only Minnesota pride.
“You got a lot of folks traveling form North Dakota that are going to be here,” said Klava. “Duluth has represented well, another big school is Michigan. They travel well. And then you get the history of Notre Dame, so it’s about as good as it can get without having Minnesota here.”
Kelly Pooley is married to one of the Notre Dame hockey coaches.
“We already spent almost $100 on sweatshirts and T-shirts,” she said with a laugh.
The next stop for Pooley and her group of Notre Dame fans was the Mall of America.
Across from the X at the Eagle Street Grill, owner Kevin Geisen is excited about hosting one of the two Hobie Baker awards. He believes it will bring traffic into his business. He’s also looking forward to Saturday’s block party. It will be reminiscent of how Grand Old Day used to be.
Organizers are shutting down a couple blocks of West Seventh, and bars in that zone will be able to sell beer right on the street.
“We’ve brought in a lot of extra staff, so it’s not just a boost in the arm for us,” said Geisen. “It gives a lot of other people opportunities to make some good money.”
Paula Engelking, Producer