From parking to food, a fans' guide to our Division I hockey arenas
Planning to watch your team for an away game? Here's some help visiting the Division I college hockey arenas in Minnesota and North Dakota.
The Division I college hockey teams in Minnesota and North Dakota are not only among the nation's best year after year, but their arenas can hold their ground against almost any hockey venue in the country. From the grand Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks to the cozy confines of St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights, Minn., here's some helpful information:
3M ARENA AT MARIUCCI
Team: Minnesota Golden Gophers
Arena nickname: “Mariucci”
Ticket prices range: $35-$115
Best concession food(s): An order of chicken pad Thai and a side of egg rolls from The Lotus (top of Section 1) will set you back $20, but it’s a great departure from the standard arena fare.
Parking/transportation: Several surface lots and parking ramps near the arena. Expect to pay between $10 and $20 per car, and be aware that it can take up to 45 minutes to exit after games. The rink is a short walk from the Stadium Village Station on the Green light rail line.
Interesting fact(s) about arena: Senior hockey players generally leave the ice for the final time in March, but if they have completed their work toward a degree, they will be back later in the spring. The rink hosts the graduation ceremonies for nine different colleges within the U of M and more than 20 Twin Cities high schools each May and June.
What the coach says: “When the tide starts to turn, it’s intimidating in here. The referee’s hand goes up and the Gopher power play comes out and the building starts to turn and you score a goal. Our fans are very knowledgeable and they appreciate good hockey," — Men's head coach Bob Motzko.
What the players say: “It’s home away from home. How could you not love being at the rink? It’s open 24/7 and we have everything we need here: kitchen, shower, sauna, shooting room, weight room, video room, you name it, we’ve got it. I’d say it’s the best facility in the country, but obviously I’m biased," — Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine.
Team: Bemidji State Beavers
Arena nickname: "Sanford," "The Sanford"
Ticket prices range: $5 for students, $12-39 on Ticketmaster
Best concession food(s): Papa Murphy’s Pizza
Parking/transportation: Free parking outside stadium.
Interesting fact(s) about arena: Hosted Bemidji Axemen of Indoor Football League for one season. It also hosts music concerts.
What the coach says: “It's just going to be fun to look across the rink and see people, turning around and seeing people. Seeing people cheer when you score a goal. It's something that we haven't had in over a year, so it's going to be a little new to us again.” — Men's head coach Tom Serratore.
What the players say: "I love playing here at the home rink. It's just a great atmosphere with our fans.” — Defenseman Brad Johnson.
HERB BROOKS NATIONAL HOCKEY CENTER
Team: St. Cloud State
Arena nickname: "The Herb” or "Hockey Center”
City: St. Cloud, Minn.
Ticket prices range: $15-$45 for men’s hockey games. The $15 seats are for kids ages 13 and younger for non-premium games. For premium games, tickets for kids 13 and younger are $25. The $45 tickets are for the top end adult tickets at the premium games. When youth hockey groups have 10 adults who pay for admission, all of the children in eighth grade and younger will be admitted free. There are also youth nights where all kids 13-and-under get in free with a paid adult.
Best concession food(s): The pizza by the slice, the parmesan bites and cinnamon bread twists for food and then Maui Wowi (non-alcoholic) drinks.
Parking/transportation: There is some parking directly across from the arena and then free parking on the streets near the arena.
Interesting fact(s) about arena: It was originally named the National Hockey Center and there are two Olympic -sized (200 feet by 100 feet) ice sheets, a main rink and a practice rink. The rink where the college teams play their games is named after former St. Cloud State president Brendan McDonald, who advocated the men’s team’s move to the NCAA Division I level. The arena had a major renovation ($18 million) that was finished in 2013 that included a new atrium and entrance, west-end seating, expanded suites and club level seating, wider concourses, a new team store and improved training facilities. The arena was renamed the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in 2013. The university then raised another $600,000 to complete a new strength and conditioning area that opened in August 2019. The arena is also the home rink for the St. Cloud State women’s team and St. John’s University, an NCAA Division III team and the St. Cloud Youth Hockey Association uses the facility regularly and Minnesota Hockey runs High Performance camps and national camps are also hosted by the arena. A statue of Herb Brooks, who coached the Huskies in 1986-87 and helped secure state funding for the arena, was dedicated in October 2019.
What the coach says: “I hated coaching in here when I was on the other (opposing) bench because it’s a momentum building. This building, when St. Cloud scores or has a flurry around the net, you can feel the energy in here. I think it’s one of the best energy, momentum buildings in the country.” — Men's head coach Brett Larson
What the players say: “It’s awesome, the history that this place has. Our fans are incredible. You kind of forget it and take it for granted when you have (fans). Last year, you learned that it sometimes sucks when you don’t have fans. This year, we’ve had full buildings on two different weekends and it feels great … It gives you a lot of energy. You want to play for the fans.” — Forward Jami Krannila
Team: Minnesota Duluth
Built: Opened Dec. 10, 2010.
Capacity: 6,756 seats
Ticket prices range: Men’s hockey single-game tickets start at $25. Women’s hockey single-game tickets start at $7 for youth 3-17, $10 for seniors 62-and-older, and $12 for adults.
Best concession food(s): The rink has had a rotating variety of options over recent years, including grilled cheese, poutine, pot roast sundaes, mac and cheese and fish fries. The chicken strips and fries remain a fan favorite, however, every year.
Parking/transportation: $10 to park in the lot or ramp.
Interesting fact(s) about arena: Amsoil Arena hosted the 2012 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four and is set to host the event once again in 2023. It’s also one of three sites — along with Minnesota’s Mariucci Arena and Denver’s Magness Arena — to host the season-opening Ice Breaker Tournament on occasions, the first being in 2017 and again in 2021. The main lobby off the Skywalk to the parking ramp is known as the “Ice Cube” for its cube shape and aquatic-themed floor. The rink is located just off the Duluth Harbor of Lake Superior and in the shadow of the Aerial Lift Bridge.
What the coach says: “Being walking distance to hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping — that's really important. People want obviously to come for the game, but they want to have some fun, too. And our rink — obviously I'm biased — but I think it's the best rink in the country. There's not a bad seat in the house, the sightlines are great, acoustics are great. We put on a great production so I know the fans in the building are going to have an amazing experience.” — Women’s head coach Maura Crowell
What the players say: “You see it growing up, but it’s just totally different when you’re out there. It’s special. It’s the best program in the country and that student section and that crowd and the support they show is super special. I’m excited for the rest of the year.” — Forward Blake Biondi
ST. THOMAS ICE ARENA
Team: St. Thomas Tommies
Arena nickname (if any): "The Academy"
City: Mendota Heights, Minn.
Ticket prices range: $20-$25
Best concession food(s): There is one concession stand in the main lobby serving the arena staples. You cannot go wrong with popcorn and a hot dog between periods.
Parking/transportation: Located in a suburb roughly 15 minutes from the St. Thomas campus, this arena is pretty much accessible by car only. There is on-site parking for $10 per vehicle, and parking passes may be purchased in advance on the school’s athletics website.
Interesting fact(s) about arena: Primarily the home ice for St. Thomas Academy, the arena’s lobby features photos and the trophies from the Cadets’ five state prep titles, the most recent in 2013, and banners honoring the players from STA that have played Division I college hockey and in the NHL.
What the coach says: “It’s an intimate setting and the fans are right on top of you, which can make it an intimidating place for opponents. Plus we have some of the best ice in the CCHA.” — Men's head coach Rico Blasi
What the players say: “I love the history of the arena. Obviously, playing there for a handful of years now, it’s like a second home to me and I feel comfortable playing there. It might not be the most flashy arena, but there is a nice nostalgic type aesthetic and atmosphere for me.” — Forward Christiano Versich
MAYO CLINIC HEALTH SYSTEM EVENT CENTER
- Team: Minnesota State University-Mankato Mavericks.
- City: Mankato, Minn.
- Opened: 1995.
- Capacity: 5,280.
- Ticket prices range: Tickets are $11-$18 per seat for men’s games. For women’s games, tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for youth (18 and under).
- Best concession food(s): There is craft beer from Mankato Brewery and there is also hard liquor available at games.
- Parking/transportation: There are nearby parking ramps and fans can also park nearby.
- Interesting fact(s) about arena: The facility has been known as the Mankato Civic Center, Midwest Wireless Civic Center (1999), Alltel Center (2007), Verizon Wireless Center (2009) and Verizon Center (2017). It reverted to Mankato Civic Center in 2019 after the naming rights contract with Verizon lapsed, but was branded Mayo Clinic Health Service Event Center midway through the 2019-20 season. The facility also hosts musical performances, conventions and other events and had a major renovation in 2016.
- What the coach says: “This went from being a place where, when I first got here, we’d move down here for game weeks on Wednesday night after practice and then would be here Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then move back to (All Seasons Arena). Right now, with the partnership we have with the city and the investment from the university, this went from being a place where we played our home games to it actually being our home. Our players now, they show up in the mornings for workouts, we’ve got a nutrition center where they can eat breakfast. For rehab, we've got therapy tubs — hot and cold tubs, a steamer in the locker room, our weight room is here, our academic support area is here and we’ve got a lounge area for both the men’s and women’s teams. It’s become very user friendly. When you’re talking about athletes, if at all possible, you don't want them running one facility to the next. You’d like to have a one-stop. To me, that’s what our facilities have become.” — Men’s coach Mike Hastings, who is in his 10th season with the Mavericks.
RALPH ENGELSTAD ARENA
- Team: North Dakota
- Arena nickname: "The Ralph," "REA"
- City: Grand Forks
- Built: 2001
- Capacity: 11,634
- Ticket prices range: Ticket prices fluctuate greatly depending on the opponent and timing of the series. They can range from $20 to $70. Saturday night games are slightly more expensive than Friday games.
- Best concession food(s): The arena has a massive selection as every concession stand is a little bit different from Chinese food to meat-carving stations to tacos to traditional concession food. The most unique item is probably the Bavarian Almonds. The stand is by the main entrance and the almonds give the arena a distinct smell every game night.
- Parking/transportation: There’s no general parking on site, however there are lots adjacent to Ralph Engelstad Arena for $10 or $20.
- Interesting fact(s) about arena: Ralph Engelstad Arena has two ice sheets. The main ice sheet is NHL-sized (85 feet wide). It also has an Olympic-sized sheet (100 feet wide) so UND can practice on it ahead of road series on Olympic sheets. It has the largest center-hung scoreboard in college hockey. It hosted the World Junior Championship in 2004-05 and is the site of the first meeting between Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
- What the players say: “It’s truly an honor to not only play there but practice every day. Just driving past it on a regular day holds a presence. In terms of player facilities, we must have one of the biggest gyms in NCAA hockey with everything we could imagine from dumbbells to racks, stationary bikes, a shooting room and machines. Even our lobby/dining room is huge with a full kitchen for us to make whatever food we need throughout the day. And the dressing room has to be compared to the best in the NHL. In terms of how it feels to play in, every time I hit the ice for the start of a period, I get goosebumps. The atmosphere and fans are always so loud and passionate and it puts a smile on my face every time. The place goes crazy when we score and the roof almost blows off with the horn, fans and even the LED lights on the glass are going off with fireworks on top of that, so it is an unmatched feeling to score at The Ralph. Before every game, I sit on the bench and just look around inside the arena. The banners and history reminds me of the Sioux tradition and it fires me up every time. The Ralph is truly the greatest arena." — Forward Louis Jamernik
Compiled by Mick Hatten, Jess Myers, Brad Schlossman, Matt Wellens, Christian Babcock.