Since opening its doors in 1990, the National Sports Center has hosted tens of millions of athletes, spectators and distinguished guests. The campus continues to grow and evolve as we look to the future of amateur athletics.
The NSC was built by the State of Minnesota as part of a statewide building program to improve Minnesota’s amateur sports facilities in preparation for the state's bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. The facility has welcomed over 50 million visitors since its opening.
In 1998, the original four rinks of the Schwan Super Rink were funded by a cooperative of eleven local governments partnering with the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. The local partners included the cities of Arden Hills, Blaine, Centerville, Circle Pines, Coon Rapids, Lino Lakes, Mounds View, New Brighton, Shoreview, plus Ramsey and Anoka counties. Total construction cost was $11 million.
Since 2000, the NSCF has financed the majority of new construction projects through private investment. All of the $10 million Schwan Super Rink expansion project (rinks 5-8 plus the Herb Brooks Training Center) and two-thirds of Victory Links Golf Course were financed privately. As of 2016, the total private and non-state public investment on the NSC campus is over $40 million. In 1990, the original state capital investment was under $15 million, and currently the state has invested just over $40 million.
Below is a year by year look at important news and events.
Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich signed legislation creating the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. As part of that statewide initiative, $14.7 million is appropriated for construction of the National Sports Center.
National Sports Center opened on 92 acres of land. Today the facility covers over 600 acres. The original facility featured the Velodrome, Sports Hall, Residence Hall and Dining Hall, Stadium, and less than 25 soccer fields.
U.S. Olympic Festival hosted cycling and soccer at the NSC.
USA CUP moved from the adjacent Blaine Soccer Complex and instantly became the NSC’s largest annual event, with 390 teams participating. Within a decade the tournament would grow to nearly 1,000 teams.
USA vs. Cuba National Team wrestling dual meet brought fans to the NSC Sports Hall.
North American Cup Women’s International Soccer -- USA, USSR, West Germany, and England. USA swept the tournament with scores of 8-0 vs. USSR, 3-0 vs. England and 3-0 vs. West Germany.
The Sika Bram Track and Field Invitational attracted stars such as Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and Jackie Joyner-Kersee to the NSC Stadium.
The US Men’s National Soccer Team battled Moscow Spartak from the Soviet Union in the Stadium.
The NSC hosted three major weightlifting championships: National Junior Championships, the Under 23 Nationals, and the American Open Weightlifting Championships.
First-year visitorship at the NSC was 386,000. In the next sixteen years it would grow nearly ten times.
International Special Olympics soccer games are held at the NSC.
Star of the North State Games, Minnesota’s amateur Olympic-style event brought over 10,000 athletes from around the state to compete in over 30 different sports.
Australian teams participated in USA CUP for the first time.
World-class weightlifting returned to the NSC, as the facility hosted the inaugural National School-age Championships and the American Open, for a second time.
U.S. Olympic Cycling Trials attracted large crowds and intense media coverage to the NSC Velodrome. USA cyclists went on to win two medals at Barcelona Olympic Games.
The world’s most famous athlete, Pelé, opened USA CUP at the Opening Ceremonies in the Metrodome.
World Championship Cycling Trials at the NSC Velodrome selected the team to represent the U.S. at the World Cycling Championships in Hamar, Norway.
Star of the North State Games returned for the second time. The NSC hosted track and field, soccer, cycling, martial arts, opening ceremonies and the event headquarters.
U.S. Women’s National Team star Michelle Akers-Stahl appeared at the USA CUP Opening Ceremony.
Masters World Cup cycling race attracted the best over-30 year old riders in the World.
The National Junior Weightlifting Championships were held in the Sports Hall.
USA CUP celebrated its 10th anniversary with 700 teams playing.
All-American Girls and Women’s Hockey Tournament was created by the NSC to tap into the growth of female hockey. Now the tournament is an annual event at the Schwan Super Rink.
Masters World Cup cycling event returned to the NSC Velodrome for a second year.
US Youth Soccer National Championships were held on the NSC Fields.
All-American Girls Soccer Tournament began its annual run. Initially the tournament occupied dates immediately before USA CUP. Now it has its own weekend in June.
USA International Hockey Cup attracted a national and internationals field, and marked the NSC’s first summer hockey tournament. Now the event covers five weekends each summer, and is held at the Schwan Super Rink.
North American Indigenous Games attracted 8,000 athletes from U.S. and Canada.
USA CUP went high-tech with the unveiling of a new big thing -- at the time -- a website!
Pelé returned to USA CUP for a second time. However as dignitaries celebrated his arrival at a VIP dinner, a huge thunderstorm flooded the NSC campus in knee-deep water. Games were delayed and rescheduled, but eventually the tournament got back on schedule and concluded on time six days later.
The USA Weightlifting National Championships, the top domestic weightlifting event in the country, was held in the Sports Hall.
The Schwan Super Rink opened as the U.S.’s only ice facility with four sheets of Olympic-size rinks under one roof.
Schwan’s and Adidas joined USA CUP as new sponsors, and the event is renamed Schwan’s USA CUP.
World Ultimate Championship brought the best disc sport athletes from 13 countries to the NSC Fields.
National Sports Center attendance topped 2 million visitors for the first time.
Minnesota Legislature approved $3.1 million for construction of the National Youth Golf Center. The rest of the $11 million project would be raised privately.
Stick it to Cancer Women’s and Girls Hockey Tournament is created to raise funds for cancer treatment. Teams agreed to forego awards so more money can be donated to charity, a practice that still exists today.
EDS Cup cycling event attracted all the top North American riders to the NSC Velodrome.
National Junior B Hockey Championships started an annual run at the Schwan Super Rink.
Tournament Greens, an 18-hole bent grass putting course, opened as the first-phase development at National Youth Golf Center.
EDS Cup cycling event returned for a second year at the NSC Velodrome.
U.S. Co-ed Ultimate Championships was held on the NSC fields.
ISI World Figure Skating Championships, popular among recreational skaters, brought over 1,000 skaters to the Schwan Super Rink.
Ferdie Ato Adoboe set a the world record for soccer ball juggling by touching the ball 266 times in 60 seconds during a demonstration at Schwan’s USA CUP.
Women’s World Hockey Championship, with the eight best National teams in the world, scheduled games at the Schwan Super Rink and Columbia Arena.
U.S. National Track Cycling Championships was held at the NSC Velodrome. Olympic Champion Marty Nothstein won three gold medals.
USA Women’s National Soccer Team defeated Canada 1-0 in front of 15,615 fans and a live ESPN television audience. The attendance mark was a stadium record for a sports event at the NSC, a mark that still stands.
U.S. Short Track Speedskating Championship is held at the Schwan Super Rink. The overall champion is the soon-to-be Olympic superstar Apolo Anton Ohno.
The Schwan Cup hockey tournament is created to be the biggest and best holiday high school hockey tournament in the U.S. Just five years later, 24 boys and 40 girls teams play at the Schwan Super Rink, Xcel Center and other venues around the Twin Cities. The event is now the top holiday high school tournament, in any sport, in Minnesota.
World Broomball Championship was held at the Schwan Super Rink. A U.S. team, a local Blaine, Minnesota team to boot, won the U.S.’s first men’s world title in this sport.
Over 2,000 youth golfers participated in lessons and clinics at the National Youth Golf Center, and the opening of the full 18-hole course was more than a year away!
USA 4, Norway 0, was the score in an important Women’s National Soccer Team game played in front of 8,357 fans in the NSC Stadium. Millions more watched live on ESPN television. Mia Hamm, Tiffeny Milbrett and Cindy Parlow notched goals for the USA.
Chinese Olympic hockey and speedskating teams lived at the NSC and trained at the Schwan Super Rink for several weeks before the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.
USA Rugby Women’s National Championship, the most prestigious women’s rugby tournament in the U.S., began a three-year residency at the NSC.
The U17 U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team made its first visit to the NSC. The USA defeated Canada 3-1 in front of 10,511 fans during Schwan’s USA CUP. The attraction? 14 year-old phenom Freddy Adu, who scored one goal in the victory.
The Stanley Cup made an appearance at the Stick-it to Cancer charity hockey tournament at the Schwan Super Rink.
Victory Links, the NSC’s premier 18-hole events golf course, opened at the National Youth Golf Center. Designed by the PGA Tour Design Services, the course immediately garnered rave reviews from experts and beginners alike. Uniquely, youth golfers are given priority for tee times.
ISI World Figure Skating Championships made a second visit to the Schwan Super Rink.
USA Football Classic, now an annual NSC event, became the first youth football tournament on the NSC calendar.
The North American Hockey League Junior A Hockey Showcase brought elite junior players, including many future college and NHL players, from all over North America, for a four-day festival. This event has become an annual fixture at the Schwan Super Rink.
The AARP Senior Olympic Hockey Championship is moved to its new permanent home, the Schwan Super Rink.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, an avid recreational hockey player, brought his all-star hockey team for a benefit game at the Stick-it to Cancer Tournament at the Schwan Super Rink. Pawlenty’s team played against a team led by former Minnesota Governor, and ex-Olympian, Wendell Anderson.
USA Rugby Women’s National Championship finished its second year at the NSC.
USA Rugby hosted US vs. Canada in a key international test match in the NSC Stadium.
Mia Hamm was the star attraction as the USA defeated Australia 3-0, in an important Women’s National Soccer Team. The two teams would play just a month later in the Olympic Games, so the game drew a sell-out crowd of 10,276 and a live ESPN television audience. Shannon Boxx and Abby Wambach found the net for the USA, but most notably, Hamm scored her historic 150th international goal. The USA went on to win gold medal at the Athens Olympics a month later.
Super Soccer Series during Schwan’s USA CUP brought three elite U17 international teams to the NSC – the USA and Canada National Teams and Cruz Azul from Mexico. USA notched a 1-2 record, with a split in two games against Canada, and a 0-2 loss to Cruz Azul.
President George Bush visited the NSC for a speech in the Sports Hall.
NSC opened its own Soccer Development Academy, directed by Minnesota soccer legend Alan Merrick.
Schwan’s USA CUP celebrated its 20th anniversary with 950 teams from 31 U.S. states and 20 countries.
Schwan Center sports event and meeting center opened. One of the first major speakers is NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Schwan Clubhouse opened at the National Youth Golf Center.
U.S. Collegiate Club Lacrosse National Championships featured the best non-NCAA collegiate lacrosse teams in the U.S.
RE/MAX Junior World Long Drive Championship is held on the soccer fields on the north side of the NSC campus. The event is televised by ESPN on a tape-delay basis.
USA Rugby Women’s National Championship finished a three-year run at the NSC.
Soccer great Freddy Adu, now playing for the U20 U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, played at the NSC in a rain-soaked 2-1 USA victory over Canada.
The Super Soccer Series, held during Schwan’s USA CUP returned as the USA and Canada U17 National Teams and Paisley United from Scotland played a three-game series. USA scores: 9-0 vs. Paisley United, 0-2 vs. Canada.
Fox Sports North televised all four boys gold division first-round games of the Schwan Cup hockey tournament.
Annual visitorship at the NSC is 3.28 million, making it the most-visited sports facility in Minnesota.
World Broomball Championship returned to the Schwan Super Rink for the second time October 30-Novemeber 4. Teams came from four different countries – U.S., Canada, Japan, and Italy. U.S. teams hailed from five different states – Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Oregon, and Ohio – and Canadian teams represented four provinces – Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario.
In December, four additional sheets of ice opened at the Schwan Super Rink, making it the world’s largest ice arena. At the same time, Columbia Arena, owned and operated by the NSC, closed its doors and the former Columbia Arena ice users moved to the new sheets of ice at the NSC campus.
USA, Sweden and Canada Women’s National Soccer Teams played a two-game series at Schwan’s USA CUP. On July 15, Kristine Lilly scored with just seconds left in the game as the USA beat Sweden 3-2 in front of a live audience on ESPN2. Two days later, Charmaine Hooper scored three goals for Canada in a 4-2 victory over Sweden.
In January, the Herb Brooks Training Center was dedicated in front of a capacity audience that included Governor Tim Pawlenty, past Governor Wendell Anderson, the Herb Brooks family, and several of Brooks’ players from the 1980 Olympic gold-medal winning U.S Hockey team. The Herb Brooks Center is a dry land hockey and skating training facility inside the Schwan Super Rink.
In February, PUMA becomes the new, official presenting sponsor of the Schwan’s USA CUP.
In April, the new NSC Figure Skating Center opened. The new facility features an indoor dance room, staff offices and a small skating apparel store.
In July, Schwan’s USA CUP exceeds 1,000 participating teams, the most in the tournament’s 23-year history.
In July, the NSC and Crystal Clear Sports partnered to provide live audio and video web broadcasts (webcasting) of over 200 games, opening ceremonies, and other Schwan’s USA CUP events on a pay-per-view basis on their website.
The NSC introduces Kick TV, the free daily “e-magazine” show broadcast during Schwan’s USA CUP.
Schwan’s USA CUP presenting sponsor PUMA brings Italian national soccer team head coach, Roberto Donadoni, to the Schwan’s USA CUP. Donadoni participated in a variety of activities during his three-day visit to the NSC, July 16-18.
In August, the 3M Championship PGA Champions Tour golf tournament hosts its qualifier at the National Youth Golf Center’s Victory Links golf course.
In May, Minnesota Thunder professional soccer teams returns to the NSC.
In May, USA Hockey announces that the US Women’s National Hockey Team will train at the Schwan Super Rink, in preparation for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
In July, NSC Stadium renovations are completed to convert the facility into a soccer-specific venue.
Schwan’s USA CUP presenting sponsor PUMA brings soccer athletes and celebrities Samuel Eto’o, Leslie Osborne and Ethan Zohn to visit Schwan’s USA CUP July 11-19.
In August, presidential candidate Ron Paul hosts a rally at the NSC.
In September, the US Women’s National Hockey Team takes the ice for their residency program, and in November their new locker room is completed.
In September, the North American Hockey League (NAHL) Showcase tournament brings 20 NAHL teams and 56 Midget teams to the Schwan Super Rink — the first tournament to use all eight sheets.
On October 11, the Minnesota Swarm professional lacrosse team and the NSC host the first-ever NCAA collegiate lacrosse game in Minnesota — Army vs. Notre Dame.
In November, the NSC installs FieldTurf infill artificial turf in the NSC Sports Hall.
2009 marks the 20th year of successful operations at the National Sports Center.
In April, the NSC unveils a new soccer tournament – Spring Cup. Fifty-two teams take up the early-season challenge.
For the third year, the 3M Championship PGA Champions Tour golf tournament hosts its qualifier at the National Youth Golf Center’s Victory Links golf course in early July. The winner is Oklahoma pro Ron Streck.
In July, Schwan’s USA CUP celebrates its 25th anniversary, July 17-25. A total of 841 teams enjoy a glittering opening ceremony and some of the most temperate weather in the tournament’s history. In honor of the anniversary, the NSC produces a five-part, 30-minute history video that tells many of the significant stories of the tournament’s history.
In August, USA Hockey invites 41 of the best female hockey players in the U.S. to rink 6 at the Schwan Super Rink try out for the U.S. Women’s National Team. After a week of spirited practices and scrimmages, attended by standing-room only crowds, 23 players are announced at the Schwan Center Grand Hall as the new National Team. Two days later, the team leaves for Vancouver where they win the pro-Olympic Games Canada Cup tournament, beating arch-rival Canada in the gold-medal game.
In September, the Ultimate Players Association (UPA) holds its High School Western Ultimate Championships and UPA Youth Club Ultimate Championship on the NSC’s fields.
In October, the NSC and USA Hockey announce the creation of the U.S. Women’s National Team NSC Fan Club, a way for local fans to interact with the players and support the team in its quest for the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
On Halloween Day, Saturday, October 31, the NSC’s second new soccer tournament for this year premiers. Named “Kick-or-Treat,” the tournament kicks off the indoor soccer season in the Sports Hall.
In November, the Minnesota Twins, working with the NSC, launch the brand new Minnesota Twins Baseball Academy at the National Sports Center. The off-season baseball training program is utilizing the indoor Sports Hall.
In January, the NSC announced it would own and operate its own pro soccer team that would play in the 12-team USSF Division 2 league. The new team replaced the financially-troubled Minnesota Thunder.
In January, NSC Women’s Olympic Team Fan Club held a “Skate with the Olympic Team” skating party on the team’s home rink at the Schwan Super Rink. Several hundred local fans gave the team a final send-off as the team departed for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.
On February 5, the NSC announced the name of its new professional soccer team -- the NSC Minnesota Stars. On February 10, Manny Lagos was introduced as the head coach; two days later, Johnny Menyongar was the team’s first player signing.
On April 11, the NSC Minnesota Stars played their inaugural game. The Vancouver Whitecaps got the better of the Stars 2-0 at Swangard Stadium in Vancouver. Five days later, the Stars got their first victory, 1-0 over the Carolina Railhawks. Daniel Wasson scored the team’s first goal.
On April 16 the inaugural episode of “Stars TV” covered the team’s introduction at the Mall of America. This weekly video show would follow the team throughout the season.
On April 24, the NSC Minnesota Stars won their home opener, 1-0 over FC Tampa Bay, in front of 2,310 fans. Leilei Gao scored the winning goal on a penalty kick.
In May, Major League Soccer establishes a National Sales Training Center at the NSC. This program will train prospective members of ticket sales staffs for MLS teams.
USA Rugby held its Women’s National All-Star Championships in late May at the NSC. The tournament featured women’s all-star teams from the seven regions across the United States: Southern Cal, West, South, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest and the Pacific Coast. A collegiate All-American side rounded out the eight-team tournament.
In June, the NSC hosted the Bingham Cup, the biannual international Gay Rugby Union’s world championship. The championship went to the New York City Gotham Knights, who beat the Sydney Convicts from Australia 18-15 in the title game.
In July, 917 teams gathered for the 26th Schwan’s USA CUP. In the prestigious PUMA vElite championship games, the Albion Soccer Club from San Diego beat Charlotte United 3-0.
The Tony Sanneh Foundation assisted a team from earthquake-ravaged Haiti to attend Schwan’s USA CUP. The L’Athletique d’Haiti played in the 15 boys division, and the team received major media coverage from national media.
In August, the NSC hosted the USA Ultimate Youth Club National Championships and on the ice at the Schwan Super Rink the NSC hosted the Minnesota State Figure Skating Championships.
At the end of the USSF Division 2 season, the NSC Minnesota Stars went on a four-game winning streak to secure a spot in the league playoffs, the only first-year team in the league to earn a playoff spot. The team went on to lose to Carolina in the first round of the playoffs.
In September, the annual North American Hockey League Showcase was once again the only tournament to use all eight sheets of ice at the Schwan Super Rink.
In October, construction started on a new locker room at the Schwan Super Rink for the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team. After an accelerated construction process, the locker room was completed just before Christmas, and the U.S. National Team used it for their Holiday Training Camp during the week between Christmas and New Year's.
For the first time, the Schwan Cup boys' silver, bronze and open divisions were held at the Schwan Super Rink.
After operating the NSC Minnesota Stars for their inaugural year, the NSC turns over ownership of the team to the North American Soccer League. This happens on the heels of new, more stringent, financial standards imposed by U.S. Soccer (USSF) on owners in division 2 pro soccer. As a non-profit organization, the NSC was unable to meet some of the financial standards set by the USSF, so an amicable transfer was made. The team continues to play their home games at the NSC Stadium.
After a heavy December snowfall collapses the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis, dozens of event promoters who had rented space in the Dome went looking for alternate locations. One event relocated to the NSC is TwinsFest, the Minnesota Twins winter fan-appreciation event. On January 28-30, over 25,000 baseball fans converge on the NSC’s Sports Hall and Schwan Center to meet the current Twins players, past stars and other baseball celebrities, buy baseball memorabilia and celebrate the coming start of Spring Training.
April 1-3, the NSC partners with the family of the late Tom Helgeson, who created the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo, to revive the show at the Schwan Center. The expo filled all the indoor space, and spilled outside into a seminar tent and onto the NSC’s playing fields for fly casting clinics.
The seventh annual USA National Disabled Hockey Festival takes place April 1-3 at the Schwan Super Rink. The Festival encompasses all four disciplines of disabled hockey – sled hockey, deaf/hard of hearing hockey, special hockey and standing/amputee hockey. A total of 41 teams from all over the U.S. compete in 10 different divisions. Some of the states represented include Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri and Minnesota. The event is highlighted by an appearance by the Stanley Cup
A unique feature of the tournament is that for the first time ever, special boards are installed to allow sled hockey players to slide between the playing surface and player box at ice level and also to have ice in the player box.
The NSC Minnesota Stars pro soccer team opens their second season at the NSC on April 9.
In May, the NSC’s hosts the USA Rugby Division I men’s and women’s regional tournaments, with the winners earning a spot in the USA Rugby College Final Four at Stanford University.
In July, Schwan’s USA CUP welcomes 941 teams -- and at the same time welcomes the most challenging weather conditions in the 26 year history of the tournament. The tone was set on day #1, when barely hours into the tournament , thunderstorms force six hours of delays, forcing 176 games to be rescheduled to the following day. Record-breaking heat and humidity combine with repeated thunderstorms produce nearly daily weather suspensions, and the first-ever tournament suspension solely due to heat. The weather was severe enough that Associated Press covered the story, so USA CUP was in national and international news for the weather challenges everyone was facing. In between the storms, however, some great soccer was played.
A girls division is added to the USA CUP PUMA vElite U16 tournament, and the inaugural winner is Lamorinda United, from Lafayette, Calif. Albion, from San Diego, wins the boys’ division.
In July, the Schwan Super Rink and the Northern Blades NSC Figure Skating Club host the ISI World Figure Skating Team Championship. Over 1,100 skaters from 23 different states compete in the weeklong event. Reigning U.S. men’s figure skating champion Ryan Bradley is the guest celebrity.
In August, the U.S. Women’s National Team holds their annual Women’s Festival at the team’s home training base at the Schwan Super Rink. Seventy-nine of the best players in the U.S. attend the camp, including 16 veterans of the silver-medal winning 2010 Vancouver Olympic team. The players were competing for spots on the U.S. team heading for the 8 Nations Cup in Finland.
The annual Fall Cup, October 8-9, becomes the second largest soccer tournament held at the NSC. This year’s event, which started in 2006 with just 78 teams, features 254 teams. Amazingly it’s just a tournament for U14 and younger.
After finishing the regular season with a record of 9 wins, 10 losses and 9 draws, the NSC Minnesota Stars pro soccer team qualifies in the sixth and final playoff spot. Then the team goes on a playoff roll, beating Tampa Bay, then Carolina (on overtime penalty kicks on the road) before facing Fort Lauderdale in a two-game aggregate-goal series for the NASL Championship. In the opening match, October 22 the Stars upset the Strikers 3-1 in front of a big and vocal crowd at NSC Stadium. In the second match a week later, the Stars fought the Strikers to a 0-0 draw, giving them the improbable championship. A few days later, fans pack Brit’s Pub in Minneapolis to celebrate the championship with players, coaches and staff.
On November 2, Anoka County and North Metro political and business leaders join NSC staff and board members to officially kick off the construction of the new NSC’s new Sport Expo Center. Instead of holding a traditional groundbreaking, the event is literally a “kick-off.” Attendees launch soccer kicks at NASL Champion NSC Minnesota Stars goalkeeper Joe Warren, who just days earlier had been selected MVP of the NASL playoffs.
On Saturday, November 5, more than 430 rinks in 47 states open up their ice to kids for free. “Try Hockey For Free,” was a national program of USA Hockey, with the goal to encourage new hockey players to try the sport without any financial risk. At the Schwan Super Rink, a sell-out crowd of 50 kids gathered around Super Rink Director Pete Carlson who reassures the nervous kids – many who had never been on skates before – that “hockey is all about fun.”
The 11th annual Schwan Cup high school hockey tournament is held December 26-30 at the Schwan Super Rink, Ridder Arena and the Xcel Energy Center. Breck wins the girls’ title over Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 3-2 in an overtime shootout. Duluth East dominates the boys’ championship game with a 6-2 victory over Minnetonka.
The NSC creates a Baseball Task Force, to investigate the feasibility of adding baseball fields and tournaments to the NSC’s facility and programming mix. The impetus for the study is that 80 acres of the NSC campus, already owned by the NSC, will become available for development in 2014. The NSC hires Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL) to study the feasibility of developing a large baseball complex on the NSC campus, and to compare baseball with soccer-field development. CSL was expected to complete their study and report results to the Task Force and the NSC Foundation Board in the fall.
The Schwan Super Rink hosts the USA Broomball National Championship, March 3-April 1.
Over the winter, the NSC Minnesota Stars announce they are changing the name of the team to Minnesota Stars FC, and they unveil a new logo. On April 7, the team opens their home schedule on the road , kind of. The team rents the Metrodome in Minneapolis, and 8,693 fans show up, the largest attendance in the team’s three-year history. While dominating play on the field, the Stars came away with a frustrating 0-0 draw against the Carolina Railhawks.
The inaugural Minnesota Bass Expo is held April 20-22 in the NSC’s Sports Hall. The new show, part of the NSC’s growing menu of outdoor shows, will move into the new Sport Expo Center in 2013. Later in the year, the show is renamed to the Minnesota Anglers’ Expo, to appeal to all kinds of fishermen.
On May 24, the opening night of the NSC Velodrome’s Thurday Night Lights racing series is held, marking the 22nd season of racing on the Velodrome.
The NSC Velodrome hosts its major event on the year, the Fixed Gear Classic, June 7-9. Among the elite bike racers competing is four-time professional World Champion and 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Franco Marvulli from Switzerland and two-time Tour de France stage winner Leon van Bon from the Netherlands. The NSC video team produces a free live webcast of all three days of racing, and there was worldwide viewership.
On June 9, the KTIS Joyful Noise Family Fest attracts 20,000 fans to a full menu of family activities, with the main attraction being a world-class lineup of Christian music stars (headlined by Toby Mac and Peter Furler) on the big stage in the NSC Stadium. The event is the first to rent the brand-new Sport Expo Center, which was completed just days before.
In mid-June, new Field Turf artificial turf is installed in the NSC’s Sports Hall.
The 28th annual Schwan’s USA CUP youth soccer tournament kicks off July 13 with 958 teams representing 22 states and 16 different countries. The Midwest United boys’ U14 team from Joplin, Mo. is selected to carry the torch during the Opening Ceremony, a little more than a year after their city was devastated by an EF5 tornado. The first Rock the Cup concert is held after the ceremony, featuring live performances by top-40 artists Chris Rene and Outasight. In the featured U16 PUMA vElite tournament, the So Cal Blues from Rancho Capistrano, Calif. wins the girls’ title earning a trip to Europe to train with Sweden's famous Umeå IK women's side. In the boys’ championship La Roca Premier from Layton, Utah grabs the championship, earning them an all-expense paid trip to England to train with the English Premier League team from Newcastle United.
In mid-July, the National Sports Center figure skating program hosts its first REACH Figure Skating Camp. This three-day intensive program featured some of the top coaches in the country, including 2000 World Open Champion Dan Hollander.
The NSC quietly has grown to become one of the premier venues for USA Ultimate championship events. This year, two events are held on the NSC’ s playing fields, the USA Youth Club Championships, August 11-12 and the USA Grand Masters Championships, September 1-3.
August 5-19, the annual USA Hockey Women’s Festival brings the 80 best women’s hockey players in the country to the Schwan Super Rink for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s annual summer training camp. The marquee event of the two-week camp is a three-game series between the U.S. and Canadian U18 National Teams. Held in rink 5, the games draw capacity crowds. After splitting the first two games, the final game goes to a dramatic overtime shootout – but only after USA scores three times in the final 4:53 of the third period to tie the score 4-4 at the end of regulation. The shootout goes to the seventh shooter before Canada nets the game winner. The final verdict: these teams are evenly matched!
On August 24, the NSC announces it has purchased the Minnesota Deer Classic, a 30-year old expo, from long-time owner and founder Hugh Price. For most of its history Price ran the expo at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Coliseum. The NSC plans to hold the event at the new Sport Expo Center on March 8-10, 2013. Price stays involved as a consultant.
The 10th annual North American Hockey League (NAHL) Showcase Tournament returns for its annual visit to the Schwan Super Rink September 12-16. This event, one of the few that utilizes all eight sheets of ice in the Super Rink, attracts 76 teams from all over the U.S. competing at three different levels. Spectator attendance exceeds 10,000.
After purchasing the event the previous year, the NSC hosts its first Minnesota Deer Classic in the Sport Expo Center and the Schwan Center in March. The NSC also hosts two other outdoor shows, the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo in March and the Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo in November.
The National Sports Center’s board of directors studied development options for an 80-acre piece of land that the NSC has owned for more than 15 years. The board hired Conventions, Sports & Leisure International ("CSL") and the Ripken Design Group to research the options of building a 20-field baseball and softball facility versus building a multi-use field complex. After studying the issue for nearly a year, the NSC board ultimately voted to scrap the baseball idea and instead develop multi-use fields, for soccer, rugby, lacrosse and ultimate. While the board was intrigued with the idea of jumping into the baseball and softball market, the more expensive field construction costs for baseball, paired with the smaller revenue projections, made the board’s decision straightforward.
The Minnesota Stars FC professional soccer team, previously owned by the North American Soccer League, is purchased by Dr. Bill McGuire. The team is soon rebranded as Minnesota United FC. The team continues to train and play their home games at the NSC Stadium.
In April, the Schwan Super Rink hosts the Ice Skating Institute’s Synchronized Skating National Championships. A total of 128 teams, from youth to adult, from all over the U.S. compete in this team skating event.
In May, the USA and Canadian U20 National Rugby teams face off in two international test matches on field U2.
Internationally acclaimed Christian rockers Switchfoot and Tenth Avenue North headline the annual Joyful Noise Family Fest, June 7-9.
The Fixed Gear Cycling Classic in June, the NSC Velodrome’s biggest annual event, hosts some of the world’s best track cyclists. Featured are Four-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist Franco Marvulli of Switzerland and is two-time Tour de France stage winner and Olympic silver medalist Leon van Bon of the Netherlands.
Schwan’s USA CUP welcomes 1,007 teams, an increase of 49 teams from 2012. This marks only the second time the tournament has welcomed over 1,000 teams. Seventeen countries are represented: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Haiti, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Uganda and the United States.
On November 16, the NSC campus hosted the Unleash the SHE 5k and 10k women’s run, one of the rare times the campus had been used for a road race. The race expo was held in the Sport Expo Center.
In early December, the Schwan Super Rink hosts the One Hockey Gone Wild tournament. A hockey tournament at the Super Rink isn’t unusual by itself, but this tournament is notable because 85 of 90 teams came from outside Minnesota.
December 13-15 the Sport Expo Center hosts the Minnesota Level 3-5 State Gymnastics Championships. This marks the first time the Expo Center was used for gymnastics, and the venue was popular with athletes and fans.
USA Hockey holds two training camps for Women’s National Teams at the Schwan Super Rink. The senior Women’s National Team holds a camp December 14-18 and the U18 National Team has a camp from December 26-31. There is intense interest in the camp for the older players, as the final Olympic roster for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games was just weeks away from being announced, on January 1.
On January 25-26, the Schwan Super Rink hosted the U.S. Speedskating’s American Cup short track speedskating completion. The event featured the best U.S. skaters who didn’t make the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. After four races over the two days, with overall women’s and men’s winners were Kimberly Goetz, of West Jordan, Utah and John-Henry Krueger, of McMurray, Penn.
On January 30, the National Sports Center unveiled its 2014 Super Rink Olympic Wall of Fame, a temporary display of photos of all 32 USA Olympians who have skated at the rink, with information explaining how each came to make the list. The Wall of Fame garnered a fair amount of media attention during the month it was up.
In February, the National Sports Center made People Magazine. A two-page spread fashion photo of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team leads off People's 10-page “Olympic Insider” preview of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. The photo was actually taken on December 16, 2013 at the National Sports Center’s Schwan Center, during the team’s training camp at the Schwan Super Rink.
In May, the NSC learned it received $3.2 million in State of Minnesota capital bonding funds to add up to 20 new athletic fields for soccer, lacrosse, rugby, ultimate and other field sports on 80 acres between 105th and 109th Avenues NE, just east of existing soccer fields. The fields will be developed on land the NSC already owns.
The Walleye Chop adult hockey tournament, May 9-11, celebrated its 10th anniversary by hosting 122 teams, the largest ever. The event is always held on the opening weekend of Minnesota Walleye Fishing Season, and it proves that not all guys fish. This event stakes its claim to be more than hockey, with a fun component that includes a tailgating competition, minnow races and a fish fry.
The annual Herb Brooks Foundation Golf Classic and Hall of Fame event in June was a who’s-who of American hockey. Some of the hockey celebrities who participated included 1980 Olympians Dave Christian and Rob McClanahan, Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo and general manager Chuck Fletcher, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy, New Jersey Devils forward Ryan Carter, Colorado Avalanche forward Brad Malone and New York Islanders center Anders Lee. Chuck Grillo was inducted into the Herb Brooks Foundation Hall of Fame. The event was held at the Victory Links Golf Course.
The 30th edition of Schwan’s USA CUP was the biggest ever -- 1,060 teams. This broke the record set in 2013 by 43 teams. Teams represented 21 states and 19 different countries: Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, India, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Uganda, United States. On the final day of the tournament, Minnesota United FC played (and defeated) Swansea City of the English Premier League, marking the first appearance in Minnesota by an EPL team.
Paul Erickson announced on July 23 that he would retire late in the year from his position as Executive Director of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC), where he has served since its creation in 1987. He served with boards appointed by five different governors – Rudy Perpich, Arne Carlson, Jesse Ventura, Tim Pawlenty and Mark Dayton.
“I’ve been planning on retiring for over a year,” Erickson stated. “I feel it is a perfect time to retire, as the MASC and the National Sports Center programs are well established and financially sound. The future is bright.”
Anyone who thinks that ice hockey takes a break at the NSC would be sorely mistaken. In 2014, summer programs at the Schwan Super Rink showed impressive numbers. The five-weekend USA International Cup drew 189 teams from eight states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, North Dakota, Alaska, California and Colorado) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Manitoba). Ninety-nine teams played in the summer session of the Minnesota Wild Adult League. Development programs like the Wes Walz Minnesota Wild Hockey School and the Intensity camp added another 163 players together in both programs. The Miracle Gold AAA program, which is based at the Schwan Super Rink, fielded a record 24 boys and girls teams from ages 1998 through 2007 totaling 350 participants.
In the spring, the NSC received $475,000 in asset preservation funding from the State of Minnesota for roof repair on the Schwan Super Rink and the installation of a new energy-efficient LED lighting system. The Super Rink repair was completed over the summer, and in the fall, the NSC took delivery of 549 new light fixtures, which were installed in the Sports Hall and the remainder in exterior fixtures on parking lots and building exteriors. The NSC’s consumption of energy for lighting will be reduced from 1.23 million kilowatt hours (kWh) annually to 602,020 kWh. This is a savings equivalent to the annual energy usage of 39.6 homes, or 1,009 barrels of oil.
On December 1, the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC) appointed a new executive director to replace retiring director Paul Erickson. Todd M. Johnson, a board member of the National Sports Center Foundation since 2008, was chosen from a group of two finalists from an original pool of 132 applicants.
For a number of years, the NSC had been monitoring the deteriorating condition of the aging NSC Velodrome, which dates back to the opening of the National Sports Center In 1990. Repairs have been made, but the pace of needed repairs had increased. At its December 18, 2014 board meeting, the National Sports Center Foundation board debated a resolution that would have shared the repair cost with a group of local racing advocates, the Friends of the Velodrome.
The hope was to keep the track open for 4-6 more years, after when the NSC Velodrome would be decommissioned. After a lengthy discussion, the NSCF board voted no on the proposed resolution.
However, the Friends of the Velodrome organization almost immediately started a campaign to raise their own money to fully fund the repairs. At the year end, the fund raising was in motion, but the goal not yet reached.
In March, the Friends of Velodrome Racing in Minnesota (FOVR) signed an agreement with the National Sports Center Foundation to repair and re-open the NSC Velodrome. The agreement marked the successful raising of over $100,000 by the Friends organization. The money was used to make structural repairs to the track. That work was done in March and April, and the track opened its 26th season of racing on schedule, May 21.
Minnesota United FC, the professional soccer team that trains and plays home games at the NSC was granted a future Major League Soccer franchise, to start play in a new stadium in 2017 or 2018. The impact on Minnesota United home attendance in the NSC Stadium was immediate and impressive. Through the first eight home games of the season, the team drew over 9,000 fans for each game, including three sell-outs.
The Stick-It to Cancer hockey tournament in April drew 57 women’s teams hailing from Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Iowa, North Dakota, Michigan, Illinois and Ontario. The tournament was a fund raiser for the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, and teams raised $51,500 for the Cancer Center.
Never folks for humility, the Schwan Super Rink marketing staff tags the Walleye Chop as “The Stanley Cup of Adult Hockey.” And for the 128 teams who competed in the 11th edition of the tournament, a record, it certainly was – if Stanley Cup games came with tailgating, minnow racing, a fish fry, fireworks and live music. Originally developed as a creative counter-programming idea to sell soft ice time on the Minnesota Walleye Fishing Opener weekend, the Walleye Chop has grown to be one of the largest adult hockey tournaments in the U.S., and certainly the biggest held under one roof. This year’s tournament used all eight sheets of ice at the Super Rink.
In May, USA Hockey holds its first ever Women’s National Hockey Team Goaltending Development Camp at the Schwan Super Rink. The camp brought in 18 of the top female goaltenders who are eligible for international play, led by two-time Olympian Jessie Vetter (Cottage Grove, Wis.). The roster included five players with Minnesota ties, the most of any state.
Every year the National Sports Center hosts some new and unique events. That’s why we were excited to host our first Minnesota Food Truck Fair on June 20. Forty food trucks crammed the main parking lot, and several thousand hungry customers enjoyed this one-day event.
The 30th annual Schwan’s USA CUP in July set another team registration record: 1,153 teams from 19 states and 16 countries. One new country was represented, Abuba.
At the Schwan's USA CUP, the NSC tried a new tactic to increase recycling. All team leaders and coaches were issued recycling and trash bags at team check-in. Rather than asking individuals to find recycling bins, teams were asked to manage their own waste and then deposit recycling and trash at central locations.
After surveying the waste after the tournament, Ace Solid Waste, the National Sports Center's waste partner, reported these numbers: trash - 13.11 tons or 72 percent; recycling - 4.1 tons or 23 percent; cardboard - 0.9 Tons or 5 percent; total waste diverted - 5.0 tons or 28 percent.
“The important thing is that for the first time, we have baseline data that tournament staff can use to build future recycling strategies,” said Ashley Marston, the NSC’s Sustainability Manager.