Sioux Falls, S.D. – The Sioux Falls Stampede joins the hockey community in the mourning the loss of former Minnesota Wild owner Bob Naegele, Jr. who passed away due to complications from cancer Wednesday night in the Twin Cities. He is the father of Bob Naegele III, a majority owner of the Stampede.
Bob was an avid Stampede fan and made several trips to Sioux Falls with his family to cheer on the Herd,” stated Stampede co-owner Brian Schoenborn. “Over the years, he made an indelible mark on the sport of hockey in Minnesota, South Dakota and across the entire Upper Midwest. Bob cared deeply about others and is impossible to replace. We will miss his friendship, mentorship, leadership and spirit. Our entire organization is praying for our partner Bob III and the entire Naegele family," added Schoenborn.
Naegele lived a life inspired by his State of Hockey roots. He was a born and bred Minnesotan who grew up skating on the rinks in community arenas around the Twin Cities. He played goalkeeper for his Minnetonka High School hockey team. Naegele graduated from Dartmouth College in 1961 and was married to his wife, Ellis, for 58 years, raising three daughters and a son together. While the Naegeles have lived in Naples, Florida since 1994, they spent time in Minnesota enjoying their 10 grandchildren and cheering for the Wild.
In the late 1990s, Naegele, along with his son Bob Naegele III, were part of an informal association of hockey enthusiasts whose dream was to see the return of NHL hockey to Minnesota. Over time, he stepped up to become the lead investor of the group, and partnered with Saint Paul Mayor Norm Coleman and Governor Arne Carlson to finish the job. Minnesota hockey fans realized that impossible dream: on June 25, 1997, the NHL announced that Saint Paul was awarded an expansion franchise.
The Minnesota Wild played its first regular season game in the brand new Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 11, 2000. That night, Naegele honored the sellout crowd in a pre-game ceremony -- the No. 1 sweater was retired, the first in team history, in honor of the fans. The Wild owner explained that it was a tribute to the support and passion the fans provided to the organization since the franchise was awarded. "You are the ones who brought the NHL back home, where it belongs," he proclaimed.
The Wild would go on to sell out its first 409 games played in team history. Naegele served as chairman of Minnesota Sports & Entertainment (MSE) and was the majority owner of the Minnesota Wild until the NHL Board of Governors approved Leipold's purchase of the team and its related entities on April 10, 2008.
The Stampede will honor Bob with a moment of silence prior to its next home game on November 24th.