SAINT PAUL, Minn. - A part of Saint Paul died four years ago when Macy's shuttered its downtown department store.
But the building that housed Macy’s, and before that Marshall Fields and Dayton’s, is about to be reborn as a hockey destination.
“This is what we've been spending a lot of time working on,” says a proud Lee Krueger as he walks into the new practice facility for the Minnesota Wild.
Krueger is president of the St. Paul Port Authority, which purchased the massive building three years ago and approached the Wild about a partnership.
Never again will the Wild be displaced from home ice by a concert setting up at Xcel Energy Center.
With seating for nearly 1,000 people, the new TRIA Ice Rink will also be home to Hamline University men’s and women’s hockey and a variety of youth and community hockey programs.
“We will have over 5,000 hours of ice time available to the public, we will have camps, clinics, games,” Krueger says.
The Wild’s facility will also contain offices for coaches and equipment managers, a 5,000-square-foot weight room, sunken hot and cold tubs and a locker room with an odor quenching ventilation system running through each locker.
“Actually had a few hockey parents come through and say, ‘How do I get that in my house?’” Krueger laughs.
Renamed Treasure Island Center, the former department store will also house restaurants, shops and offices. A two-story Walgreens store and Minnesota Housing have already occupied the building.
Outside, the first third of the world's largest hockey mural wraps around the southeast corner of the building.
Painted by the Minnesota artist Terry Fogarty, then enlarged, the 50 x 300-foot mural pays tribute to traditional pond hockey but also foretells hockey's more diverse future with images of players from African American and Asian descent.
“If Hockey's going to survive, that's got to happen,” Fogarty says.
The building should be ready for the Wild to take the ice later this month. A grand opening is scheduled for January 16th.