National Sports Center is one of the few places in the world where you can step from verdant fields onto stretches of ice. Eight ice arenas?four Olympic-sized, four NHL-sized?comprise more than 148,000 square feet inside the Schwan Super Rink. And as for the fields? The National Sports Center was originally conceived as a soccer complex, and it still boasts 52 fields. The Guinness Book of World Records has certified National Sports Center as the largest soccer complex on earth.
Hockey and soccer still only make up a small portion of the sports that are playable at the center. Those same soccer fields might host rugby on one day, lacrosse on another, and ultimate disc the following week, provided the discs have not flown south for the winter. The ice rink might host figure skaters as well as broomball teams. At the center's outdoor cycling velodrome, brake-free bikes race each other along a canted track, thrilling crowds every Thursday from late May to September. And of course, there's the Victory Links Golf Course, a 400-acre expanse that's home to an 18-hole championship course, a grass driving range, and an 18-hole bent-grass putting course. Players of all stripes can sign up for leagues and lessons in their favorite sport, or check out everything from expos to fitness classes on the calendar of events.
For most of the year, the outer concourses of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome fill with the aromas of hot dogs and grilled onions to feed hungry fans during Vikings and Twins games. But from November through April, the smooth concrete floors of those same concourses become the skating surface for the Rollerblade RollerDome. Skaters have taken over the Metrodome every winter for decades, including in 1993, when Jonathan Seutter set a Guinness World Record there by skating 271 miles in 24 hours. The half-mile concrete loops provide the ideal conditions for speed skaters and beginners alike. On the upper level, experienced skaters get a cardio workout with separate alleys for speed skating and leisurely coasting. On the lower level, kids and novices can take their time while skating along to music spun by onsite DJs and really hip spiders.
Instead of facing off against rival universities, Augsburg College athletes tackle a different opponent in the summer: boredom. Led by camp director and Augsburg College head football coach Frank Haege, the camps pair the school's athletes and coaches with youths for sessions packed with fun drills and games. Depending on the age group, each camp focuses on a different level of offensive and defensive instructions; younger kids’ non-padded, non-contact camps are peppered with motivational sessions, and high schoolers’ conditioning testing strengthens them for full-contact drills. All-day middle-school camps are also non-contact and instill a sense of friendly competition with flag-football matches and other activities such as dodge ball.
Saints North Family Skate Center offers roller skating, mini golf, laser tag, and myriad other ways to keep the whole family engaged. The skating rink opens up into a smooth and polished oval where skaters of all ages can cruise in time with an entertaining and all-ages soundtrack. There's family fun skating sessions offered during the day and night, where parents and kids can skate side-by-side or watch dad and mom do the hokey pokey and hula hoop. On Wednesday nights, grown-up skatiers can zip around each other on Adults Night. The free mini-golf course makes trading your skates for shoes an enticing option, as does the laser-tag chamber. There's also a snack bar with food and drinks, and a seating area to watch others skaters weave their way around the rink.
It's not everyday you see a brown raccoon on roller skates being chased by a group of children. Unless, of course, you're a regular at Cheap Skate. The shop's mascot, Ricky the Raccoon, has been known to take to the rink during some of the rink's special skating events, which include weekly all-you-can-eat pizza nights and family skate sessions. The calendar also offers plenty of open skate sessions so families can fit in a few laps around the rink at a time that works best for them. And, between spins, skaters can head to Cheap Skate's snack bar where they can fuel up with a warm snack, sip on a refreshing beverage, or rest their feet to ensure toes can still text on the way home.
Popcorn Media gives kids the chance to experience strutting down the red carpet during their Movie Star workshops and weeklong camps. Attendees soak up the secrets of screen acting from a director who works with Disney and Nickelodeon studios while producing their own unique work. They oversee each production element that goes into a film's creation, from lighting and filming to rehearsing and giving their parents an autograph. At the end of each camp, kids attend a red-carpet premier of their work amid the applause of friends and family.