ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Snow, ice and cold weather are warming up the economy of St. Paul.
Three huge events — the return of the Minnesota Wild, the St. Paul Winter Carnival and Red Bull Crashed Ice — will give the city an economic shot in the arm. It’s a boost badly needed after three long months without hockey.
“This is probably the hottest week of winter activity in St. Paul in a long time,” said Adam Johnson, vice president of marketing for Visit St. Paul. “There are so many great events kicking off in the next week, it’s great for our bars and restaurants.”
The Wild announced a sellout crowd of 19,298 for their opener last Saturday against Colorado. It was the sixth-largest attendance in the club’s history.
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Johnson said he hopes that enthusiasm, coupled with the team’s 2-0 start, will bring even the most sour fans back to St. Paul.
“I think we’ve really seen the Wild roll out the red carpet and get most of those fans back quickly,” Johnson said. “You see the (Zach) Parise and (Ryan) Suter jerseys flying off the shelves and there is a lot of excitement around what this team can do.”
It’s estimated each home Wild game brings about $900,000 to downtown bars, restaurants, shops and hotels.
And while the NHL and Winter Carnival are St. Paul staples, Crashed Ice is the more-than-welcome newcomer. The extreme ice cross downhill attracted about 80,000 people last January. The visitors spent an estimated $20 million.
“I was in the middle of the crowd last year and it felt like an Olympic Village,” Johnson said. “I don’t know too many people who walked away disappointed in the event, so it’s return should bring even more interest.”
The event has evolved in its second year. There are a number of changes from the track itself, to an official warming house with live music across from the Xcel Energy Center, to shuttles that will bus people in from as far away as Mankato.
St. Paul business and economy leaders are hopeful it’s a sign Crashed Ice could become a regular annual winter event.
“It’s (the event’s) second year and it feels like it’s year 10,” Johnson said. “It really feels like it could be here for a long time. It’s a natural — Minnesota celebrates winter.”