By Frank Gilbertson, Maplewood Heritage Preservation Commissioner
The State of Hockey harkens the names of towns like Roseau, Warroad, Duluth, Hermantown, Edina, and... Maplewood? Yes. Aldrich Ice Arena, at 1850 North White Bear Avenue, is named after Mr. Gene Aldrich, one of the founders of the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.
Built in 1962, Aldrich is a historic building at over 53 years old. The arena has one regulation sheet of ice measuring 200' x 85'. Aldrich serves as the classic host site for more than 100 high school hockey league and play-off games. It went down in history when it also hosted the first two High School Girls' Hockey State Tournaments. At full capacity, Aldrich has seating for over 3,400, with concert seating available up to 4,430.
The St. Paul Rangers from the old Central Professional Hockey League utilized Aldrich Arena for their home practice facilities and occasional game play. In 1995, for its first and only season, the Roller Hockey International League's Minnesota Blue Ox played 12 home games at Aldrich arena. Before the Blue Ox game action started, fans were able to enjoy inline skating on the "concrete rink."
On January 22, 1998, the proclamation that Minnesota's new professional hockey team would be called the Minnesota Wild was made at Aldrich Arena. There was a capacity crowd when a large artificial puck was dropped from the ceiling at center ice, with local kids wearing National Hockey League uniforms ready at center ice.
These days a visit to Aldrich Arena may easily bring back memories of Met Center in Bloomington, former home of the Minnesota North Stars. The Met Center was built atop a man-made hill and had a similar "box-style" architecture.