ST. PAUL (AP) -- When the puck drops for the Minnesota Wild's season opener at Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 11, there will be a lot more to do than simply watch the hockey game.
From the three-story, eight-sided video scoreboard to the ribbons of digital animation encircling the arena's upper levels to the interactive flat-panel computer screens, high-speed data hookups and big-screen TVs in the suites, high-tech attractions -- and distractions -- abound.
There's a cellphone antenna inside arena to improve reception and for executives who just can't bear to be away from their computers and printers, there is a business center available to suite occupants and club-seat holders.
"We were getting requests to have fax machines in the suites," said Brian Jore, director of information technology for the Wild's parent company. "That's why we thought of the business center."
Some fans may want to focus on hockey and they won't be disappointed, even if the action on the ice lags.
There will be tiny video cameras sprinkled around the rink, providing views of the action from inside the goal or looking down from the scoreboard at center ice. Game-day previews, stats, player profiles and league highlights broadcast in streaming media will be available on the flat-panel screens with the click of a mouse -- at least for occupants of the 74 suites; eventually the information will be available to other ticketholders via kiosks in the concourse.
The long-term plan is to add features that would let fans create their own "souvenir packages" at the arena by assembling video and audio highlights of the games on the screen and then e-mailing the package to themselves, Jore said.
Minnesota Hockey Ventures Group, which owns the Wild and manages Xcel Energy Center and the adjacent Rivercentre convention center complex, is paying $30 million to $40 million for enhancements to the arena, including the technology features.
From a fans' perspective, the most noticeable technology element will be the flashy animation on the Arenamation system, which includes the scoreboard and the 360-degree electronic displays, Jore said.
In addition to game statistics, league scores and video replays, it will display sophisticated lighting effects during player introductions and at other key moments, Jore said.
Xcel is set up for future technology enhancements. Throughout the arena, the Rivercentre complex and the Wild's next-door headquarters in the former Minnesota Club building, "we put in a very robust network" of fiber-optic cables and traditional copper wiring to handle not only present technology demands but future needs as well, Jore said.
For example, the arena has standard turnstiles at the entrances, but is wired so that an electronic ticketing system with bar-codes or "smart cards" easily can be added later.
"We're not sure what technology will be best, but we wanted to be ready," he said.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.