Venue marketing veteran Kelly McGrath, of White Bear Lake, was named general manager and executive director of Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. Kelly joined the organization in 2000 as director of sales for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. She later held the position of director of marketing, which expanded to director of marketing and communications for all Minnesota Sports & Entertainment (MSE) facilities in 2022.
“Kelly’s outstanding performance and experience in venue operations and live entertainment, along with her deep commitment to our community and organization, make her the perfect choice to lead Xcel Energy Center’s team,” says Senior Vice President of Facility Administration Jim Ibister in a prepared statement. “We are well positioned for the future and look forward to a great next chapter.”
As a member of Xcel Energy Center’s leadership team, McGrath has successfully led bids with U.S. Figure Skating, U.S.A. Gymnastics, U.S.A. Hockey, NCAA. National Collegiate Hockey Conference, and Minnesota State High School League governing bodies, landing events that generated millions of dollars in economic impact across the region. During her tenure, Xcel Energy Center has been recognized by notable publications like Sports Illustrated, SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily, ESPN The Magazine, and Forbes Magazine for best arena, stadium, and fan experience.
McGrath herself was named a 2023 Venues Today Women of Live Honoree, 2020 Venues Today Women of Influence Honoree, and the 2019 Women in Sports and Events Twin Cities Woman of Inspiration.
Moving forward in her new role, McGrath says she hopes to maximize on non-Wild events in the building, especially as it relates to meetings and events. “We’re just always on the lookout for different and new partners that we might be able to work with to continue to diversify our programming.”
The Xcel Energy Center boasts nine event spaces, ranging in size from 735 square feet (the Alumni Lounge) to 3,550 square feet (the Michelob Golden TapHouse). The spaces available allow for gatherings both intimate and grand, with a combined capacity of 1,481. Aside from Wild games and concerts, the venue hosts an estimated eight to 10 nontraditional events per year.
“We very much have a philosophy that your success is our success,” McGrath explains. “When we book an event in the building … our whole team here—from box office, to operations, to guest experience—we feel like we’re the face of your product when someone is here, and we want that experience to be elevated for everybody involved.”