St. Cloud State University officials decided not to pursue a commercial naming-rights deal and instead went with a sentimental choice for an arena name change: Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
The late Brooks, who coached the medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic team — yes, the Miracle on Ice crew — before endeavoring on a long and jagged pro and college coaching career that saw stops with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders (among others) before ending up leading the Huskies to Division I status in the late 1980s, coaching the team for a season at the Division III level and then raising money for the National Hockey Center. His determination was central to the facility being built in the first place, and it’s clear the hockey program wouldn’t have been a success without Brooks’ passion to succeed. He’s still a very fondly remembered figure in Minnesota hockey circles; a statue greets fans entering the Xcel Energy Center for Minnesota Wild games. From the St. Cloud Daily Times:
“The (2012-13) season, the signals that something special was happening,” St. Cloud State President Earl H. Potter III said of why the university decided to name it after Brooks now. “This building (renovation) has been a tough project. We’ve gone through four years of uncertainty …
“People started with us excited and endured with us through the ups and downs. This is just a year where the stars aligned and it was clear that it was time.
“When you dig deep and look at what matters, we wanted to put a name on the building that had significance for our history, our identity and in what is important to the state of Minnesota.”
The arena is in the midst of a $14.7 million renovation, set to be completed before the start of the upcoming hockey season. The project includes new locker rooms, a new glass-atrium entrance, and more fan amenities.