ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The last professional sports team to leave Minnesota was the North Stars.
They played their final game at Met Center in Bloomington in 1993 before moving to Dallas to become the Dallas Stars.
Seven years after the North Stars left, the Minnesota Wild began play at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. But getting professional hockey to return came at a steep price.
“It was extremely disappointing. After the game I can’t tell you how many people just stayed in their seat to watch, to reminisce, to think back about what great memories they had there,” said former North Stars player Tom Reid.
Reid is now a radio commentator for the Minnesota Wild. His restaurant in St. Paul is filled with North Star hockey history.
“When you lose something like that you don’t realize how important it is until it’s gone. And then you think- what did we do? You don’t realize the importance until you’ve lost it,” said Reid.
In the early 1990s, the team was hoping to sign a 20-year lease to play at the Met Center.
“When push came to shove there was a continued loss of dollars. There was no help financially at all to improve the building and so the North Stars left in 1993,” said Lou Nanne, a former North Stars player, coach and general manager.
The Met Center in Bloomington was torn down and now an Ikea parking lot sits where Mike Modano and Neal Broten used to play.
According to Nanne, it would have cost about $15 million to do what was needed to keep the North Stars in Minnesota. Seven years after they left, it cost $285 million to get a new hockey franchise.
That of course is the Minnesota Wild. Nanne said about 1,500 jobs were also lost and several local businesses suffered. Tom Reid remembers it well and hopes the Vikings don’t suffer a similar fate.
The NFL is a bigger league than the NHL is today and was back then. It’s arguably the most popular league, and things do cost more.
Nanne and Reid said the price tag for a new Vikings stadium is much higher than what it was for the North Stars. But Reid believes the fall out would also be much greater than what happened nearly 20 years ago.
“It isn’t just the team and players themselves. The trickle-down effect is enormous and you lose millions upon millions of dollars every year,” said Reid.