Following the departure of the Minnesota North Stars after the 1993 season, the state of Minnesota was without an NHL team for seven seasons. Mayor Norm Coleman began a campaign to either recruit the relocation of an existing franchise to St. Paul or the award of an expansion franchise to a Minnesota-based ownership group. These efforts came close to success in the mid-1990s when Minnesota interests purchased the original Winnipeg Jets with the intention of relocating the franchise to Minnesota, however, arena negotiations fell through and the Jets instead relocated to Phoenix, Arizona.
Shortly after the failed attempt to relocate the Jets, the NHL announced its intention to expand from 26 to 30 teams. Bob Naegele, Jr. became the lead investor for an application to the NHL for an expansion franchise and ultimately the first majority owner. On June 25, 1997, the NHL announced that Minnesota had been awarded an expansion franchise, to begin play in the 2000 – 2001 season. The six finalist team names for the new NHL franchise (Blue Ox, Freeze, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, White Bears, and Wild), were announced on November 20, 1997. Jac Sperling was named Chief Executive Officer of the Minnesota team, Doug Risebrough was named General Manager, Tod Leiweke was named President, and Martha Fuller was named Chief Financial Officer.
The State of Minnesota adopted legislation in April, 1998 to loan $65 million to the City of St. Paul to fund 50% of the estimated $130 million project costs for the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The legislation also provided that only $48 million of the loan needed to be repaid if the team met the requirements to have an agreement in place during the term of the lease with the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. The City of St. Paul issued an additional $65 million in bonds, with roughly 90% of the debt service on the bonds and the repayment of the state loan coming from scheduled rent and payment in lieu of taxes from the Minnesota Wild. The St. Paul Civic Center deconstruction began soon thereafter and the Xcel Energy Center design was announced. A groundbreaking ceremony for the Xcel Energy Center was hosted in St. Paul. 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
Leipold’s purchase of the Minnesota Wild was announced on January 10, 2008. Leipold had this to say about his newest acquisition, “It is a true privilege to become part of the organization and the hockey community in Minnesota.” Fans of the Minnesota Wild had already begun welcoming Leipold as the new owner via the team’s message board. Leipold’s company Minnesota Sports & Entertainment also owns the Wild’s AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild (formerly the Houston Aeros). The company manages the Xcel Energy Center and the Saint Paul RiverCentre.
The Minnesota Wild are a professional ice hockey team based in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Wild are the only one of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area’s major professional sports league franchises to play in St. Paul; the other three play in Minneapolis.
The new team was founded on June 25, 1997, but started playing in the 2000 – 2001 NHL season. The Wild were the first NHL franchise in Minnesota since the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993. They lost their first game, 3–1, to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and recorded their first win against the Tampa Bay Lightning five games later. The Wild play at the Xcel Energy Center. In the 2002 – 2003 season, the team made its first Stanley Cup playoff appearance, making a surprising run to the Western Conference Finals. As of 2015, the Wild have averaged a .537 points percentage since entering the league.
2000 – Present / National Hockey League
2000 – Present / Minnesota Wild
Wild – With their former team now known as the Dallas Stars, many fans wanted to resurrect the name North Stars, but a trademark issue with the NHL made that an impossibility. From more than 13,000 submissions in a contest, Wild was selected by management in recognition of the popularity of outdoor activity in Minnesota. The name trumped Blue Ox, Freeze, Northern Lights, Voyageurs and White Bears.
Stanley Cup 0
2000 – Present / Xcel Energy Center
2008 – Present / Craig Leipold
2000 – 2008 / Bob Naegele, Jr.
1 Minnesota Wild Fans
99 Wayne Gretzky
*Blue is this team’s history