SBD/July 10, 2012/Franchises

Interest In Wild Continues To Rise With New Season-Tix Sales Nearing 2,000 Since Signings

Parise (l) and Suter both signed 13-year, $98M contracts to play for the Wild
Jerseys for Wild LW Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter are “flying off the shelves,” and “almost 2,000 season-tickets have been sold” since the players signed with the team last week, according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Wild COO Matt Majka said, “We're picking up the phone, not calling people.” Wild Owner Craig Leipold: “Free agents of Zach's and Ryan's caliber are often attracted to the major markets, where there is more attention, brighter spotlights and, frankly, more money. These two chose Minnesota ... and in doing so have transformed our franchise.” During yesterday's introductory press conference Leipold “talked about his hope of getting a Winter Classic, a practice facility, an eventual Stanley Cup or two.” He “invited the entire Wild staff to the news conference” and “more than 150 showed” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/10). The AP’s Jon Krawczynski wrote when Parise and Suter signed matching 13-year, $98M contracts with the Wild, "part of their aim was to turn Minnesota into a destination for the best pros in the league.” Parise yesterday said, “Hopefully, with Ryan and I coming here, good players want to play with good players. Hopefully that helps influence some people if they need some and we have a lot of friends around the league so hopefully that will help, too." In hockey circles, Minnesota "can in some ways be considered a major market." The Wild "have a beautiful arena, a dedicated fan base and a hockey heritage where children sometimes are put on ice skates before they can walk.” But 12 years into the franchise's existence, the fans were “getting restless while watching a starless team miss the playoffs year after year.” The Wild were "desperately in need of an adrenaline shot," and the team "got two” (AP, 7/9).

In St. Paul, Ben Goessling notes Leipold "reopened the Wild's pursuit of a practice facility in St. Paul." Leipold "called on St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman to help him make it happen.” The team's “campaign for a practice facility has been a long and so far unsuccessful one.” For the Wild, the “answer could be seizing on the momentum created by Parise and Suter, just as the rest of the Twin Cities' professional sports teams finish their lobbying efforts for new facilities.” Leipold said that the lack of a practice facility "was among the concerns Parise and Suter raised when considering playing for the team.” Goessling writes a practice facility “eventually could inject some new revenue into the team's operations.” St. Paul Arena Co. Senior Dir of Planning & Public Affairs Bill Huepenbecker said that a practice facility would cost $45-55M and "would be linked by tunnel or skyway to the Xcel Energy Center.” Leipold yesterday said that the team has “sold almost" 2,000 new season tickets since signing Parise and Suter. Meanwhile, Leipold “declined to comment on business partner Phillip Falcone, who is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for charges that he lent himself $113 million from hedge funds he manages to pay his taxes.” Leipold only said that he has “been in touch with Falcone” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/10).
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