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Is the ‘X’ the Susan Lucci of arena awards?

Touring bands say they love the Xcel Energy Center for its acoustics and sightlines. The Minnesota Wild love to play there, too, although so far this year they’re only 8-6-1 at home. And U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman loves it as much as anyone — it helped get him elected to the Senate once and counting.

The concert industry apparently likes it a bit. For the seventh time in eight years, the downtown St. Paul arena has been nominated for “Arena of the Year” by Pollstar, the leading concert industry trade publication.

Unfortunately, Xcel has never won. Well, seventh time’s the charm. And if the “X” doesn’t: Demand a recount.

Other nominees: American Airlines Center (Dallas), BankAtlantic Center (Sunrise, Fla.), Madison Square Garden Arena (New York), Palace of Auburn Hills (Auburn Hills, Mich.), Sommet Center (Nashville, Tenn.), Sprint Center (Kansas City) and Staples Center (Los Angeles.)

The magazine has given this award since 1992, but the only winners have been 13-time winner Madison Square Garden, Staples Center twice and once for the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Some of this year’s “X” highlights:

The 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January; President-elect Barack Obama’s rally on June 3, where he claimed the Democratic nomination, and the 2008 Republican National Convention Sept. 1-4.

And these tours stopped by in 2008: Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Rush, George Michael, Neil Diamond, Walking with Dinosaurs: The Live Experience, R.E.M., Rascal Flatts, New Kids On The Block and AC/DC.

Winners will be determined by an international survey of industry professionals that subscribe to Pollstar, and will be announced Jan. 30.

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