There's no shortage of sports teams to cheer for this winter, from professional leagues to college teams to local clubs. Whether you love NBA basketball, NCAA hockey or roller derby, you can watch top athletes compete at venues around the state.
Winter is prime time for professional sports, and Minnesota has three home teams to root for. The Minnesota Vikings NFL football team plays at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, and diehard fans don their purple and yellow for game day. In 2014, the team will move outdoors to TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus while their new NFL stadium is developed.
Nearby at the Target Center, the Minnesota Timberwolves take the court against their NBA rivals. Single-game tickets start as low as $11, and packages including food as well as kids days make going to a game fun for the whole family.
The Minnesota Wild play NHL hockey at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. Hockey is a time-honored tradition in Minnesota, and fans are passionate about their team. Get to the arena early for happy hour, which includes drink specials before every home game.
Minnesota is home to colleges of all sizes, many of which have student athletes competing in everything from volleyball to gymnastics. The University of Minnesota is part of the Big 10 Conference, with winter sports including Gopher football, basketball, hockey, wrestling, and swimming and diving. Other campuses in the U of M system that have intercollegiate teams include Duluth (Bulldogs) and Morris (Cougars).
The Minnesota State Universities are also known for their athletics. Teams include the Winona State Warriors, Bemidji State Beavers, St. Cloud State Huskies, Minnesota State Mavericks (in Mankato) and MSUM Dragons (in Moorhead). Private schools get in on the action, too, with big rivalries between St. Thomas, St. John's, St. Olaf and others in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Club & Other Leagues
Niche sports also have a strong following in Minnesota. The Minnesota Swarm are part of the National Lacrosse League and play at the Xcel Energy Center. Their season runs from late December through late April, and the team will join Buffalo, Philadelphia, Rochester and Toronto in the realigned East Division this year.
If you've never seen a roller derby bout live, now's the time. The Minnesota RollerGirls consists of four teams, who battle it out at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown St. Paul. They also have a double header with the Swarm once a year. The North Star Roller Girls have a similar multiteam format and compete at the Minneapolis Convention Center. There are also active leagues in Fargo-Moorhead, Duluth, Bemidji, Rochester and more.