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St. Paul Civic Center

The St. Paul Civic Center was an indoor arena that was part of the adjacent RiverCentre.  The arena, which was opened on January 1, 1973, was the home of both incarnations of the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA - the first from 1973-1976 and the second from 1976-1977.  The arena seated 16,000.  It was renamed in 1998 to the RiverCentre.  The Arena was also home to the MSHSL High School Hockey Championships starting in 1945.  Gene Aldrich whom was Athletic Director for St. Paul public schools pushed the idea of the State High School Hockey Tournament.  Because of his lobbying, the first state tournament was held in 1945 at the St. Paul Auditorium, then moved to the Civic Center to accomodate the increasing popularity of the tournament.  The boys basketball tournaments were also held at the Civic Center as well as three NCAA Frozen Fours, including the Gophers 1989 heartbreaking overtime loss to Harvard 4-3 in the Frozen Four championship game.  The Civic Center is best remembered for it's unique hockey boards that were made of clear acrylic glass all the way down to the ice.  This was because the seating configuration was round, meaning the closest seats at center ice were not right up against the glass.  The clear boards made for better sightlines for those spectators.  The last professional hockey team to skate in the civic center was the IHL Minnesota Moose hockey club from 1994-1996.  The clear boards were replaced with normal wood boards when the Moose played there, as the professional team needed to be able to sell advertising on them.  This wrecked the sightlines for what should have been the best seats, and proved that to get an expansion NHL team a new arena was needed.  The arena was torn down in 1998 to make way for the Xcel Energy Center which was built in the exact same location as the old Civic center, which opened to play in 2000 with the Minnesota Wild, and subsequently the return of the State High School Hockey Tournament to play in St. Paul.