The Xcel Energy Center is a sports arena in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is home to the NHL’s Minnesota Wilds and the NLL’s Minnesota Swarm. It is owned by the city of Saint Paul and operated by Minnesota Sports & Entertainment. The arena has four spectator levels: one suite level, and three general seating levels named the 100 level, the club level, and the 200 level. Its official capacity is 18,064.
The Xcel Energy Center opened in Fall 2000. It was built on the site of the demolished St. Paul Civic Center. In 2004, the arena was named by ESPN as the best overall sports venue in the U.S.
There had been a buzz in the Twin Cities for more than a week. The entire cast of the Season II tour had been in the area, practicing for the opening of the tour. They spent some time rehearsing at the University in Minneapolis and finally had their dress rehearsal in the arena.
The 2003 American Idol Tour traveled throughout the United States and gave 41 shows. The concert tour ended on August 31st in Anaheim California.
No one knew what to expect at the Xcel. The show and its performers were kept under wraps and so the performances were highly anticipated.
In the first half of the show, each Idol performed a solo song in the order they had been eliminated from the show. Clay Aiken performed in the number 9 position. Before his performance, they showed a short video montage of Clay as he progressed through the American Idol show. Finally, Clay appeared on the stage from below in a cloud of fog and sang “This is the Night.” Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and purple tie, Clay looked handsome and ready to thrill the audience.
The second half of the concert was much more informal and there was a combination of solos and ensembles. Clay was very busy as he sang in many of the songs.
One of the highlights of the show was Clay’s duet with Ruben to “The Girl Is Mine.” They had a lot of fun teasing each other and sang well together.
To the majority of the people in the audience, the most exciting moment of the concert was when the lights dimmed and Clay arose from under the stage, dressed with a sports jersey from the local team. It was the first time that the audience saw and heard Clay’s popular hit, “Invisible” and they saw a performer who dominated the show with an exciting and dynamic performance. And, the Xcel was the home of the first “tug.”
The program at the Xcel ended with the entire ensemble singing “God Bless the USA.” It was a wonderful way to end an exciting program.
The Season II American Idol Tour went on to be a huge success. Sponsored by PopTarts, the tour had an average attendance of 10, 446 and the capacity for the tour was over 89%.
Clay Aiken fans will always remember the Xcel Arena and the wonderful excitement of the evening. It was just the beginning of a wonderful professional life for Clay.