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Friday, June 26, 2009
Updated: July 1, 11:57 AM ET
Ultimate Standings 2009: No. 66

By Morty Ain
ESPN The Magazine

Last Year's Rank: 31
Title Track: 77
Ownership: 59
Coaching: 92
Players: 64
Fan Relations: 30
Affordability: 77
Stadium Experience: 2
Bang for the Buck: 101

What does it take for a trip to an arena to rank No. 2 in Stadium Experience? Well, hop aboard for the ride around the Xcel Center. Over here we have four separate 60- to 70-foot-wide concourses on four seating levels with an open-air view of the ice. Above is an LED scoreboard measuring 35 by 36 feet. Near section C4 we have Headwaters Bar and Restaurant, where pregame fans can gorge on all the jumbo shrimp, strip steak au jus with sage and pork Normandy and apples that you can sign for with your foam finger. And for our On the Glass season ticket-holders, behold the Fishing Lodge, a pine-finished 1 1/2-story entertainment space complete with radio broadcast studio, plasma TVs, full bar, pool table and leather seating. Had enough? "The X is stunning," says Bryan Reynolds of Hockeywilderness.com. Of course, fans help supply the green for this glitz by paying through the nose. Tickets to the Xcel Center cost $61.28, which is more than the Flyers or Blackhawks or Flames or Rangers charge. Yet the on-ice product is merely mediocre: Minny has failed to make it beyond the first round the past five seasons. Blogs Nathan Eide of Hockeywilderness.com: "They're satisfied to make no effort to improve the team yet sit back and collect revenue hand over fist." Yes, a very good point, Nathan, but have you seen the 40 TVs at the Iron Range Grill?