ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Wild hit the ice at home for the first time this season Friday night, and local bars are welcoming the team with open arms. They're hoping the Wild can boost business, now that loosened COVID-19 restrictions have allowed them to reopen.
Tom Reid's on West 7th Street in St. Paul is devoted to hockey and employees say the return of the sport to the capital city also means the return of fans to the bar.
"It's the first one of the season during COVID. Really, we're prepared," said Kathy Gosiger of Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub.
Even though fans weren't in the stands when the puck dropped at the Xcel Energy Center for the Wild's home opener, workers at Tom Reid's say the bar did get a boost in business from fans who wanted to watch the game on TV with other fans.
"It’s fun. It's festive," said Gosiger. "This is where people come. They come here to watch hockey."
While some bars and restaurants in the area have shut down because of the lack of events at the X, Patrick McGovern's, which just reopened on Friday, didn't expect a large crowd like it would see on a typical game night.
"Normally this time of the year or day we would packed with fans, but not tonight because they don't have fans [in the stands]," said Patrick Boemer of Patrick McGovern's Pub. "We will probably get some fans to watch it on TV, but it’s not even close to being the same."
Meanwhile, business at Cosetta's across the street is down 40 percent since the pandemic started, but the owner says any sign of normalcy -- like hockey at the X -- is a bright spot for the St. Paul.
"I think any people in St. Paul - especially hockey fans - will want to be down here just to feel part of anything to be honest with you," said David Cossetta of Cossetta's Italian Market and Pizzeria. "I think the people who own the places are just grateful to see there is some movement here."