ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - For the first time in nearly a year, a group of season ticketholders will make their return to the Xcel Energy Center as the Wild host a pair of home games.
A few dozen fans will be welcomed back in and the team hopes to bring in even more fans later this spring.
"We sure miss our fans in the building and the noise and the energy they bring," said Wild Vice President of Customer Service Maria Troje. "I know the players miss it too."
For the six home games, the Wild have played so far this season, all have actually had a small number of fans in the arena safely spaced out in the club level.
"We started the season with 150, really our hockey teams friends and family," said Troje.
Two weeks ago, the team upped the number to 250, adding staff friends, and family. This weekend, they will allow about 40 season ticketholders to the loge boxes -- the first general public fans at a game for nearly a year.
"It is a big step, right," added Troje. "Anytime you’re welcoming the public into the building in these circumstances, it is a big step even if it’s a small number, so we’re really looking forward to it and I think our staff is ready."
During the pandemic, the arena’s HVAC system got a major air filtering upgrade while anti-microbial tape added to handrails and doors and the bathrooms were all upgraded to entirely touchless plumbing.
The team will soon present to the state a plan to bring more fans back, bringing the arena's restricted capacity to about 10 to 15 percent, or about 2,000 to 3,000 fans.
"Maybe in April would be our goal, right," said Troje. "March is right around the corner and if in a few weeks we present to the governor’s office, our proposal would be beginning of April."
Like the Twins, fans would be grouped in pods of two or four people. If approved, it’d be a start with hopes next season the place will look a lot less empty.
"But we hope by the fall, we’re back to a little more normal and we can fill this building back up again," said Troje.