Pro hockey coming to the Bank

In 2016, the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks will play at TCF Bank Stadium.

Ben Gotz

After another season of hosting professional football on campus, TCF Bank Stadium will expand to the National Hockey League.

The stadium will host a game between the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks as part of the 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series on Feb. 21, 2016, the NHL announced on Saturday.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for us to be a part of it,” University of Minnesota athletics director Norwood Teague said. “To show off TCF and to show an outdoor game is really a thrill for us.”

The event is one of three NHL outdoor games next season, and the first in the Wild’s history.

The matchup won’t be first time the stadium has taken on an ice rink. It played host to outdoor hockey last year as part of the Hockey City Classic, where both the Gophers men’s and women’s hockey teams played.

Minnesota Wild chief operating officer Matt Majka said he didn’t know whether the Hockey City Classic played a role in the NHL’s decision to award the game to TCF Bank Stadium over another possible Twin Cities venue, Target Field.

However, Teague said the event likely helped the stadium’s chances.

“I think it helped with the NHL. It helps us, because we’ve been down the road before,” he said.

Majka was at the Hockey City Classic last year, and he said he came away impressed with the venue.

“For a hockey game the sightlines are great,” Majka said. “They have radiant heat in various areas on the arena, they have some nice premium spaces and we’re thrilled. And it’s a big venue … [and] we believe we’ll fill it.”

The Gophers men’s hockey team drew 45,021 fans to the Hockey City Classic last year.

Majka said the size of the stadium may have been a factor in TCF Bank Stadium hosting the game rather than Target Field.

“I have to say, I do believe that the size of the venue was the difference between the two venues,” Majka said. “It was clearly a factor. There are 10,000 extra seats at TCF Bank Stadium. I don’t believe that was the only issue, but it’s an issue to be sure.”

Majka said the NHL will handle the logistical work surrounding the event, which includes creating the ice sheet in the stadium.

“Even though it is one of our 82 games, it really is a league event,” Majka said. “They execute the event on their own.”

Teague said the University of Minnesota would generate revenue from the event, but he hadn’t yet looked at the contract’s specifics regarding exactly how that will work.

“There’s a lot of little things that add up,” Teague said. “It’ll be good for us from a revenue standpoint.”

Ticket prices for the event aren’t yet set, but the Wild hope to announce them soon, Majka said.

“We always love anything at TCF,” Teague said. “It helps the brand, it helps exposure. Anytime that you have your [stadium] on national TV … it always helps.”