Web Editorial Associate
There are a lot of things you can expect to be similar on this year’s Minnesota Lynx team.
For the most part you will see the same personnel, the same drive and the same desire to once again make a championship run.
But the one thing that will be different this season is where the Lynx will play their home games. Due to Target Center renovations this season, Minnesota will call Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul its home for the 2017 summer while those renovations are completed.
In preparation for the season in their new home for the season, the Lynx have focused on getting out in the St. Paul community and getting acquainted with fans on the other side of the river.
“We’re just really excited to connect with some new fans and some fans who have been coming to games for years and just kind of getting out here and getting excited to kick off our new home court for the 2017 season,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Hopefully we will have a chance to see a lot of these folks out at the games.”
The Lynx players, coaches and basketball academy staff began going out and meeting fans in the St. Paul area earlier this week, when they hosted three surprise clinics in the St. Paul area.
“That’s another great idea from our staff to come over (to St. Paul) as many times as we could just to embrace the opportunity. St. Paul is a great community and we are looking forward to playing here at Xcel,” Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen said. “I think it worked out really well, the fact that we have such an amazing arena here that we can go to while they are redoing Target Center is really cool. We are very fortunate as well.”
Overall, St. Paul fans are excited for the opportunity to have the Lynx play their home games closer to them this summer.
“I think it’s huge. . . They are the most decorated champions (in Minnesota). I think it’s great for them to come and hopefully get some east-siders to some games at Xcel this year,” said Katie Carter, teacher at Crestview Elementary School in Cottage Grove. “It’s an opportunity to make the short trip of the highway to the X and go see some really great basketball.”
Whether it’s fans from Minneapolis, St. Paul or elsewhere in the state of Minnesota, the Lynx are looking forward to kicking off another season in front of some of the best fans in the WNBA.
“This isn’t about dividing St. Paul fans and Minneapolis fans, it’s Twin Cities, it’s the state of Minnesota. The Lynx are the states team,” Reeve said. “I think for us, it’s about constantly growing the game and the professional sport scene and continuing to carve out space and carve out new fans, that’s what this is about.”
The Lynx will open their 19th WNBA season at 6 p.m. May 14 against the Chicago Sky at Xcel Energy Center.
“I’m a Minneapolis boy, so having them come over here is a little bit like abandoning the home, but for them to be in a different part of town and to immerse themselves into a different part of the community, it’s fantastic,” said Ben Classsen, who works at the St. Paul Midway YMCA.
“Inevitably, we are the Twin Cities. Whether it’s St. Paul coming into Minneapolis to cheer for the Lynx or the Minneapolis folks coming into St. Paul, we need to cheer for our Minnesota teams and keep it Minnesota.”