The Minnesota North Stars were Minnesota's National Hockey League team for 26 seasons, before they moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1993. They played at Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. It was located across from the current Mall of America, it was considered one of the finest arenas in the NHL before it was demolished in 1994.
During their tenure in the NHL, the North Stars went to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, against the New York Islanders in 1981, and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991. Unfortunately, they were on the short end both times. In 1990, the North Stars were sold to Norman Green, who moved the team to Dallas, and renamed them the Dallas Stars.
North Stars History
In 1966, the NHL consisted of six teams: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York, and Toronto. The NHL realized, however, that demand in the sport was growing. So, in the summer of 1966, the NHL decided to add six franchises: Los Angeles (Kings), Minnesota (North Stars), Philadelphia (Flyers), Pittsburgh (Penguins), Saint Louis (Blues), and California (Seals), who played in Oakland. The North Stars had to build a new arena, as the only existing ones were considered inadequate for the NHL. So, Metropolitan Sports Center (or Met Center, as it was known) was built, and opened just in time for the North Stars first home game, October 15, 1967, against California. The North Stars drew well in their first few seasons in the league. So well, that the fledgling WHA, the competitor to the NHL, decided to put a franchise, the Minnesota Fighting Saints in the Twin Cities. The team played at the Saint Paul Civic Center, a 16,000 seat arena in Saint Paul. In 1994-95 and 1995-96, the Civic Center was the home of the Minnesota Moose.
After a near miss to the finals in 1971, the North Stars fell on hard times in the 1970's, due to the WHA's player raids. However, the North Stars played host to the All-Star game in January 1972 at the Met, on the eve of the WHA. The WHA hurt the
North Stars severely, as well as the damage it did on other NHL clubs. In 1978, the struggling North Stars merged with the equally struggling Cleveland Barons, marking the only time the NHL has allowed two teams to merge. This did help the club, however, as the new talent brought hope and a trip to the conference finals in 1980. In 1981, the North Stars made their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the New York Islanders in five games. The North Stars won the Norris Division in 1982 and again in 1984. But, many fans remember the 1990-1991 season as the most memorable. The team barely made it into the playoffs, beating out Toronto. Then, they upset regular season champion Chicago and runner-up Saint Louis in 6 and 6 games, respectively. Then, they upset defending Champion Edmonton in 5 games, earning a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh proved too powerful, sending the North Stars home in 6.
The following season saw the 25th anniversary North Stars unveil new uniforms, replacing the traditional green and gold "N" with the black, green and gold "stars". Done by the North Stars new owner, Norman Green, it was supposed to signify a "new era" for the club. It did, as 1992-93 was the North Stars last in Minnesota. Amid much public outcry, the Dallas Stars were created. But, the pro hockey game returned to the cities in 1994 with the Minnesota Moose of the International Hockey League. However,
the Moose moved to Winnipeg in 1996. Once again the Twin Cities is hockeyless.
Mhfd40@aol.com writes: The Met Center was a great Hockey arena. If you asked most NHL players where they liked playing, most woiuld tell you the Met Center. The Met had some of the NHL's fastest ice, best lighting and best player locker rooms and facilities.
For the Fans, the Met had the best sight-lines. There wasn't a bad seat to be found. Believe me, I sat in every section.
Last but not least, the demolition crew did not take down the building the first time. When they detonated the explosives, most of the structure was still standing. They later had to bring in mobile demolition equipment and do it the hard way.
Long Live The Met. It was nothing real fancy, but it was the best darned Hockey Arena in North America.
On February 24, 1998 Matthew Lepke writes: Howdy. I know this might be odd to do, but since the Met Center has been torn down and we are temporarily without hockey, I think it would be appropriate to have more e-mail comments about the old Met. It was one of the best arenas ever in the NHL, and the ice quality was second to none. It was imploded, not exploded, and yes, it didn't fall in one try. If I remember correctly, it took three more blasts before the crew gave up and brought out the heavy equipment.
The Met Center was Imploded in December, 1994. The initial blast could only damage the building. Several more blasts were needed to finally knock the old palace down. The arena was said to have some of the best sightlines in hockey, and the ice surface was one of the finest in the league. The building also played host to several music concerts and events, and was home of several state high school competitions. Prior to the demolition, the Met Center scoreboard was sold and moved to the Xcel Center, where it still is in use today. The land formerly occupied by Met Center served as parking for rental vehicles.
For several years after the arena was demolished, the property served as an overflow lot for the Mall of America. In 2004, an IKEA store opened on the west end of the property, and the new American Boulevard was rerouted through the east end of the property. The remainder of the site is planned long-term to become the site of Mall of America Phase II, of which the IKEA would be an anchor store.