Friday, August 10, 2007

WCHA Roadtrip Town No. 7 – St. Cloud

Three weeks ago, the WCHA Blog kicked off its list of which WCHA towns make for the best roadtrips. For my list, I’m basing this off five criteria (Access, Bars, City Experience, Hotels, and Ticket Cost / Availability). For a detailed list of what these five items mean to me, click here.

Here is a list of the cities the preview has previously covered up until today:

10. Houghton
9. Grand Forks
8. Mankato

This week, it’s city No. 7: St. Cloud, MN., which is of course home to the St. Cloud State University Huskies.


St. Cloud is one of the more accessible towns in the WCHA. It’s similar to Mankato in that it’s about one hour from the Twin Cities. If you’re coming from the Twin Cities, you can either take Interstate 94 up through the Maple Grove / Rogers area; or, you can take Highway 10 through Anoka / Elk River. The two roads, which run parallel to each other, are about the same mileage wise. It’s a little easier to get to the downtown area in St. Cloud from Highway 10, but that route also features a handful of traffic lights in the Elk River area, and has a lower speed limit.

St. Cloud gets the nod for accessibility over Mankato because, despite the similarities in distance from Minneapolis (71 miles from St. Cloud, 81 miles from Mankato), the St. Cloud area is much closer to Grand Forks and Duluth, which of course feature a pair of WCHA teams.


There are not any bars within walking distance from the National Hockey Center, but downtown St. Cloud features plenty of eating and drinking establishments.

Before the game, arguably the best place is MC’s Dugout Bar and Grill, which is located in the heart of downtown. They have very good food and the place is always packed with hockey fans on the night of a game. Because of its popularity, it fills up quick, so you should arrive about two hours prior to puck-drop if you hope to obtain a table.

Another popular pre-game hangout is McRudy's Pub, which is right down the street from MC’s. If you’re looking for a family-friendly option in the downtown area, the Green Mill – which is connected to the Best Western Kelly Inn – is one of your better bets.

After the game, I’m sure there are many places to go if you want to have some fun, but in my mind, one only needs the infamous Red Carpet. It’s a multi-level bar with several themed “mini bars” inside. It’s my personal favorite in terms of post-game bars in WCHA towns.

City Experience

I generally visit the Granite City when the Golden Gophers are in town, and more often that not, the two teams play a home-and-home series, which means I haven’t had too many chances to visit the area around St. Cloud.

If your team visits St. Cloud early in the season, one could make the drive 10-mile drive from St. Cloud to Collegeville to check out the campus of St. John’s University. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch a St. John’s football game from famous Clemens Stadium.

Even if there isn’t a football game, it’s a cool campus to checkout, especially in the fall.

For more on the area, check out Granite Country, “official site for St. Cloud area travel.”


I previously mentioned the Best Western Kelly Inn, and this in my opinion is the best option for visitors. It’s very close to the National Hockey Center and is located in downtown, so you are close to all the bars and restaurants.

The Kelly Inn can fill up quickly, but there are plenty of other lodging options in the St. Cloud area.

Ticket Cost / Availability

Tickets usually aren’t too tough to come by in St. Cloud, unless you’re attending a Gopher or Sioux game. The Gophers, of course, bring lots of fans up from the Twin Cities area – to a point where, last year, St. Cloud State decided they wouldn’t sell tickets online to the Gopher games. Fans had to either call the SCSU box office or drive up to St. Cloud to get tickets to that series, which is an obvious attempt to keep Minnesota fans out of the building. To me that’s a poor move, but they have every right to sell tickets how they feel.

The cost for tickets rises for Gopher games to around $25 per seat. I’m not 100 percent sure if the same holds true for other “big name” series, but SCSU certainly isn’t the first school to implement this idea.


St. Cloud is similar to Mankato in many ways. Both are pretty easy to get to from the Twin Cities, which is arguably the hub of the WCHA. They both feature some fun before and after game options for eat and/or drink, but both towns also features schools that raise ticket prices depending on who their team is playing, which is a negative.

The bottom-line is that they both make for fun cities to visit and are pretty accessible to the average WCHA fan.

Overall Grade: B-