ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Lockout? What lockout? Minnesota Wild fans were quick to forgive and forget a four-month work stoppage, flocking back to the Xcel Energy Center for a shortened season.
The team sold out all but two of its 24 home games, drawing an average of 18,794 fans. That breaks a franchise record set in the 2005-06 season.
With that in mind, St. Paul bar and restaurant owners are celebrating the return of playoff hockey for the first time in four years. That’s especially after man business owners were hurt badly by the lack of business with the NHL lockout.
“It’s going to be huge for myself and just about every other establishment around Xcel,” said Pat Boemer, owner of McGovern’s on West 7th. “Any kind of Wild game, especially a playoff game, brings in about five times the amount of business you would have on any given night.”
NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Colin Smith Reports
The playoff push is accompanied by perfect timing. Spring’s tardy arrival brings warmer temperatures and fans that flock to new, outdoor patios.
McGovern’s debuted a retractable roof enclosing its stone patio last March. Across the street, patrons enjoy Cossetta’s new, multi-million dollar renovation complete with rooftop bar.
“Dave (Cossetta) is a friend of mine and their patio has really been a coup for us, too,” Boemer said. “We feed off of each other. This area has become a real destination spot.”
Bartenders and servers, many who had their hours severely cut during the lockout, have now become some of the biggest Wild fans in St. Paul. The deeper the team advances into the playoffs, the more home games make for home crowds.
“They’re not cursing them anymore because they’re making some good money,” Boemer said. “When it comes to the lockout, everything is forgotten.”
The Wild’s first round schedule is as follows:
Game 1 – Tuesday, April 30, 7 p.m. at United Center
Game 2 – Friday, May 3, 8:30 p.m. at United Center
Game 3 – Sunday, May 5, 2 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center
Game 4 – Tuesday, May 7, 8:30 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center
*Game 5 – Thursday, May 9, TBA at United Center
*Game 6 – Saturday, May 11, TBA at Xcel Energy Center
*Game 7 – Sunday, May 12, TBA at United Center
*If necessary. All times Central. Times subject to change.