St. Paul Civic Center

The St. Paul Civic Center was an indoor arena located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The arena opened in 1973 and was closed and demolished in 1998.[2] It once sat near the Ordway Music Theater and the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. The Xcel Energy Center was built on the former site of the arena.

St. Paul Civic Center
Address143 W 4th St
Saint Paul, MN 55102
LocationDowntown Saint Paul
OwnerCity of Saint Paul
OpenedJanuary 1, 1973 (1973-01-01)
ClosedApril 9, 1998 (1998-04-09)
DemolishedMay 1998
Construction cost$19 million
($116 million in 2019 dollars[1])
Minnesota Fighting Saints (WHA) (1973–77)
Minnesota High School Hockey Tournament (MSHSL) (1976–98)
Minnesota Moose (IHL) (1994–96)


The arena opened on January 1, 1973, and had seating capacity of approximately 16,000 for hockey.[3]The arena could be expanded up to 17,800 for concerts and other non-sporting events. The Civic Center was the home of both iterations of the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA—the first from 1973 to 1976 and the second from 1976 to 1977. The boys' state high school hockey and basketball tournaments were also held at the Civic Center as well as three NCAA Frozen Four national ice hockey championships.[4] The arena was also the home of Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association (AWA).

The arena was unique in North America in that the hockey dasher boards were made of clear acrylic glass from the shelf all the way down to the ice. This was because the arena's seating configuration was round, and the closest seats between the blue lines were not flush against the boards. The clear boards made for better sightlines for most spectators seated between the blue lines, since the seating angles in the Civic Center were shallow. The clear boards were replaced with standard white dashers boards when the Minnesota Moose of the International Hockey League played there, as the team needed to be able to sell advertising on the boards.[5] This wrecked the sightlines for what should have been the best seats, and this illustrated that Saint Paul needed a new arena with appropriately-designed seating.

Popular cultureEdit

On June 28, 1984, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, actress Courteney Cox and 200 extras filmed the Brian De Palma-directed music video for "Dancing in the Dark" at the arena, one day before Springsteen's 1984 Born in the U.S.A. Tour formally opened at the arena.[6]

The song "I Bought a Headache" from The Replacements' album Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash is about regretting purchasing marijuana from someone at the arena for $8.50. Billy Joel recorded and release a live version of his song, "Streetlife Serenader". The song was recorded from a 1980 concert held at the arena.

Noted performersEdit


  1. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  2. ^ "Fond farewell to St. Paul Civic Center". Post-Bulletin. March 26, 1998. Archived from the original on October 9, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  3. ^ Noll, Roger G.; Zumbalist, Andrew, eds. (October 1997). Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. p. 233. ISBN 0815761112.
  4. ^ "WCHA ANNOUNCES PLAYOFF CHAMPIONSHIP TO BE PLAYED IN GRAND RAPIDS IN 2014 & 2016, SAINT PAUL IN 2015 & 2017" (Press release). Saint Paul, Minnesota: Western Collegiate Hockey Association. March 23, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  5. ^ "Changes at Civic Center". Star Tribune. Minneapolis, Minnesota. October 7, 1994. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  6. ^ Bream, Jon (September 27, 2016). "In new memoir, Springsteen recalls opening Born in USA Tour in St. Paul". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on September 29, 2016. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
Preceded by
Olympic Center
Lake Placid, New York
Host of the
Frozen Four

Succeeded by
Joe Louis Arena
Detroit, Michigan
Preceded by
Joe Louis Arena
Host of the
Frozen Four

Succeeded by
Knickerbocker Arena
Albany, New York
Preceded by
Bradley Center
Host of the
Frozen Four

Succeeded by
Providence Civic Center
Providence, Rhode Island