SBJ/July 23-29, 2012/Facilities

Loge boxes planned for Xcel Energy Center

The Minnesota Wild is investing about $1 million to build new loge boxes at Xcel Energy Center, the arena’s first major structural upgrade since it opened in 2000.

The NHL team is replacing about 100 regular club seats — the three middle sections in the arena’s west end, where the Wild shoots twice — with 24 four-person loge boxes tied to a Scandinavian theme with high-end stone countertops and upscale wood dining chairs.

The 24 four-person boxes, shown in a rendering, will replace about 100 regular club seats.
Image by: MINNESOTA WILD AND GENERATOR STUDIO
The new premium-seat product is an all-inclusive package priced at $48,000 to $53,000 annually. The fee covers the cost of tickets for all Wild games and most other events, plus a buffet meal, soft drinks, and beer and wine served in a lounge behind the seats. Hard liquor is a separate cost.

Bud Light has naming rights to the revamped space as part of a three-year renewal with the Wild, said Carin Anderson, the team’s vice president of corporate sponsorship and retail management. Anderson would not disclose the value of the renewal.

The brewer and the team have not decided on a formal name for the loge boxes and are using the Bud Light Terrace as a working title, Anderson said. Anheuser-Busch, Bud Light’s parent company, receives loge seats for all events to entertain clients.

Bud Light will have a sign at the front door of the lounge leading to the loge boxes and two structural columns will be themed for Bud Light and will be visible in the seating bowl, said Tom Proebstle, a partner with Generator Studio, architect of record for the project.

Bud Light’s renewal extends to the Iron Range Grill, a hockey-themed sports bar on the main concourse. It will be rebranded as the Bud Light Blue Line Bar, Anderson said.

The sponsorship extension with Bud Light and the need to develop a third premium-seat option drove the loge box project, Anderson said. The arena opened with 74 suites and 3,000 club seats, and the Wild has seen attrition on the club level over the past few years, she said.

By comparison, Xcel Energy Center’s suites average $180,000 a year and club seats cost $3,300 to $3,740 as a season ticket with first right to buy tickets for other events. For both products, food and drink is an additional cost with the exception of the “on the glass” seats in the lower bowl.

After researching what other NHL facilities have done with midpriced premium-seat retrofits, including TD Garden’s AT&T Sports Deck in Boston and Verizon Center’s Acela Club in Washington, D.C., the Wild made the decision to construct loge boxes.

“The building is 12 years old and we had nothing in between,” Anderson said. “Honestly, we have not kept up with the trends of premium-seat options. The loge concept is different than anything else now that you can buy, and we felt this market doesn’t have much of it.”

As of last week, the Wild had just started marketing the loge boxes and had already sold five units to existing season-ticket holders, she said.

In addition to tickets and food and drink, the loges come with the game-day use of iPads, an upgrade over the small mounted TV screens that have historically been a loge box amenity in other major league arenas.

Those patrons can use the tablets to tap into the Wild’s team application and mywild.net, an internal website available only in the arena, said Jim Ibister, the club’s vice president of facility administration.

To provide added value for loge box holders, the Wild can customize tablets for companies that buy a loge box by installing the firm’s mobile application and its logo as the screen saver, Ibister said.

3M, a Minnesota firm, is supplying a new LED lighting product in the lounge, and Cambria, another local company, is making the countertop surfaces from a synthetic product made of granite and marble, Proebstle said. Mortenson is the general contractor.

The loge boxes will open Sept. 26 for the Wild’s first preseason game.

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