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The Dome We Called Home

saying goodbye to Minneapolis’ much-loved and much-hated stadium

Luc Anthony

Saying goodbye to your longtime home, or any place that you frequently visit, is almost always a little difficult. There comes a certain amount of comfort or familiarity, no matter the level of adequacy of the actual building. Perhaps it has outlived its usefulness, perhaps it is in disrepair, perhaps it is merely not new-enough by modern standards. To you, it is the source of many memories, and as the years go by, the positive memories tend to be the ones that stand out, rather than the bland or sour.

All of the aforementioned applies to the Metrodome. Never thought the Humptydome would be the recipient of such eloquence, eh?

Wait, you say, the Metrodome’s only been around three decades, right? Is it really worth destruction and replacement? Common sense says “no.” Modern sports business reality says “yes.” ... The lifestyle of football fans has changed since 1982, and we expect convenience and luxury – “amenities,” in the verbiage of teams requesting new facilities.We live in the final days of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, and, no, I decline to accede to the Vikings’ wishes and refer to the stadium’s playing field corporate sponsor that, ironically, sits on the site of the Metrodome’s predecessor, Metropolitan Stadium. A nearly-$1 billion facility is going to be constructed where the Dome sits, and with two years needed to clear out the old venue and build the new one, the Vikes are headed to the Gophers’ TCF Bank Stadium across the river for a couple of years of Lambeau-esque outdoor football. A tight schedule awaits, so once the Vikings play their final game of the season Dec. 29 against the Lions, the demolition process commences.

Wait, you say, the Metrodome’s only been around three decades, right? Is it really worth destruction and replacement? Common sense says “no.” Modern sports business reality says “yes.” The building was well-constructed – OK, the old roof ... well, you know what happened in 2010, but otherwise, that structure could last beyond our lifetimes. Yet the lifestyle of football fans has changed since 1982, and we expect convenience and luxury – “amenities,” in the verbiage of teams requesting new facilities.

Attending a couple of Vikings games since 2009, I now see the need for fresh digs. The concourses produce excellent examples of the bottleneck effect. You have an eternity of steps to climb to reach your row ... and a long row of narrow leg space and fans to ask “Excuse me” to get to your chair. In the era of football field-sized video boards, the Metrodome’s screens retain the charm of late-1980s technology – they are to 2013 football what County Stadium’s animatronic board was to baseball in 2000. Plenty more reasons exist, enough that Minnesota thought paying a half-billion towards a new place was a worthy investment.

The time has come to say goodbye. For many of us in the Chippewa Valley, most of our in-person professional sports experiences happened at the Dome because of its close proximity compared with Green Bay, Madison, or Milwaukee. We traveled 90 minutes westward to see the Brewers take on the Twins, or to actually catch a Packers game instead of waiting on the Lambeau season ticket list. We may have gotten inside for a couple of World Series, a Super Bowl or some NCAA tourney games. Perhaps you drove there to see Paul McCartney put on a concert.

Goodbye time came for me on Sept. 22, my last event at the Metrodome and my 26th since the spring of ’88. After plenty of Twins and Vikings games, an NCAA regional, a Prep Bowl and overnight Luther College baseball, this Vikings-Browns match marked my last sojourn under the Teflon. I wanted to get an inside glimpse of the new, brighter Teflon roof; after the old one collapsed, I got myself a souvenir scrap to add to my Metrodome artifact collection, which consists of a square of World Series-era AstroTurf, and hopefully soon a couple of blue plastic seats.

The Vikings’ upset loss to Cleveland that day seemed apropos – a disappointing end to what many consider a disappointing stadium, one with multi-purpose climate-controlled potential but lacking an authentic ambience. Yet the recollections of mediocrity will fade, and the pleasant ones will survive, as with with any abandoned entity. Incredibly, one day we will miss the urinal troughs, losing fly balls in the roof, and getting blown out the doors by the air pressure – the way I left the Metrodome for the last time. The memories that blew out with me will always live on.