ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — When Hamline athletic director Jason Verdugo looks out at what’s unfolded before him, he can’t help but think back three years to when he was in a very similar position.

“Right where the logo is at center ice, I stood on there and thought, when we first talked about the space and said, it’s gonna be virtually impossible,” Verdugo said.

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(credit: CBS)

“Simply we were on a roof. With nothing around it … So to see what it’s become is amazing.”

It used to be the rooftop of the old Macy’s building in downtown St. Paul. Now, it’s the Wild’s practice facility and Hamline’s new home ice for men’s and women’s hockey. The Pipers moved in this weekend. Their first game was Friday night.

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“Being in Minnesota in the land of hockey, you wanna have thriving collegiate programs if you’re gonna sponsor it,” Verdugo said. “And certainly for us, this was just one of the things to put us over the top if you will to give us an opportunity to have a premier hockey program both men and women.”

When the opportunity presented itself, Hamline was more than happy to share space with the Wild — not unlike the partnership Hamline has with the Saints at CHS Field.

“We were in need of a new hockey arena, trying to find a place that was going to permanently be our home, at the same time, obviously, the Minnesota Wild needed a practice facility,” Verdugo said.

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“Certainly it’s been a long, long process. So to finally, to be here, at this point tonight is pretty exciting, a little surreal. Just because it’s been a lot of hard work, a ton of collaboration. And really excited that it’s finally here.”