Friday, August 3, 2007

WCHA Roadtrip Town No. 8 – Mankato

Two weeks ago, the WCHA Blog kicked off its list of which WCHA towns make for the best roadtrips. I'm basing my list 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

This week, it’s city No. 8: Mankato, MN., which is of course home to the Minnesota State University Mavericks..


The city of Mankato is about 80 miles south of Minneapolis, which equates to a drive that will take you a little more than an hour. Most of the drive will be on Highway 169. One must be careful as you get closer to Mankato, as the area is notorious for speed traps.

Fans coming from Duluth or St. Cloud don’t face drives that are too long, and the same goes for Madison (296 miles) and Grand Forks (385). Of course if you’re coming from out of state, Twin Cities International Airport is located just south of Minneapolis, so after the flight, you don’t have too far to go.


This is one area where Mankato really excels. If you’re into the bar scene, you should be set in Mankato. I’m sure there are many I won’t touch on here, but these are some of my favorites.

The Mavericks’ newly renamed arena (formerly the Midwest Wireless Civic Center, now called the Alltel Center) is located right in the heart of downtown. It’s a very short walk from the arena to the Holiday Inn, which is the main place to say (more on that later).

There are many bars in the area of the Holiday Inn and Alltel Center. My favorite is a nice little Irish place called Mcgoff's Irish Pub & Eatery. They have a great array of bar food and it provides for a great atmosphere.

If you want a more family-friendly atmosphere, there is a Buffalo Wild Wings that is just across the way from the arena. This BW3 is located inside a mall-type area called Mankato Place.

Also in this area is another establishment called The Underground Bar and Grill. As the name would imply, there is a steep walk down a flight of steps to get into this spacious bar. They have multiple foosball and pool tables, as well as darts and video games, and is a popular pre-game hangout.

For some late-night fun, The Haze, which is also located in this same area, gets quite packed and makes for a great time.

City Experience

Outside of the area in and around the arena, I haven’t found there to be much to do in the Mankato area. Part of that could be because there isn’t really a need to leave that area if you are able to stay at the Holiday Inn.

As I stated earlier, you’re not too far away from the Twin Cities, so if you wanted to head up there on Saturday morning to check things out, you could spend a decent amount of time there and still make it back to Mankato for the game.

The Greater Mankato Chamber and Convention Bureau has more info about the area.


Because Mankato is a fairly good-sized city, there are plenty of places to stay. But, as previously stated, the Holiday Inn downtown is by far your best option.

You’ll usually pay about $100 per night, which is a little steep, but I’ve found it to be worth the price. You’re within walking distance of all the bars, restaurants, and most importantly the arena, so you’ll save some money right there on gas and parking.

Additionally, the hotel offers a large swimming pool and a very good game room.

Most visiting teams also make the Holiday Inn their home for the weekend, and I suggest you do the same.

Ticket Cost / Availability

Because the Mavs have struggled on the ice in recent years, tickets aren’t too tough to come by. For the Gopher series, they hike the ticket prices up and those tickets can be a little tough to get because of the hundreds of Gopher fans that make the trip down 169 to Mankato. But other than that, you really shouldn’t have a problem.


The Mankato trip is maybe one of the underrated trips in WCHA circles. There are lots of options close to the arena for dining and having a good time, and it’s easy enough to get tickets to watch your team play. There isn’t much else to do in the city though, which hurts its overall grade.

Overall Grade: B-