Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

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Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Metrodome, HHH Metrodome, Mall of America Field, The Homerdome, The Dome, The Thunderdome
Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome.svg
051207-MPLS-006Metrodome-crop.jpg
Location 900 South 5th Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415
Coordinates 44°58′26″N 93°15′29″W / 44.97389°N 93.25806°W / 44.97389; -93.25806Coordinates: 44°58′26″N 93°15′29″W / 44.97389°N 93.25806°W / 44.97389; -93.25806
Owner Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (1982–2012)
Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (2012–2013)
Operator Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (1982–2012)
Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (2012–2013)
Capacity American football: 64,121
Baseball: 46,564[1] (expandable to 55,883)
Basketball: 50,000 Concerts: 60,000[2]
Field size Left Field: - 343 ft (105 m)
Left-Center: - 385 ft (117 m)(unmarked)
Center Field: - 408 ft (124 m)
Right-Center: - 367 ft (112 m)(unmarked)
Right Field: - 327 ft (100 m)
Backstop: - 60 ft (18 m)
Dome Apex: - 186 ft (57 m)
Wall: - 7 feet (left and center field)
Wall: - 23 feet (right field)[3]
Surface UBU-Intensity Series-S5-M Synthetic Turf (2011–2013)
Sportexe Momentum Turf (2010)
FieldTurf (2004–2010)
AstroTurf (1987–2003)
SuperTurf (1982–1986)
Construction
Broke ground December 20, 1979
Opened April 1982
Closed December 29, 2013[9]
Demolished January 18, 2014 - April 17, 2014[4]
Construction cost $68 million[5]
($195 million in 2014 dollars[6])
Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Setter, Leach & Lindstrom, Inc.[7]
Structural engineer Geiger Berger Associates
General contractor Barton-Malow[8]
Tenants
Minnesota Vikings (NFL) (1982–2013)
Minnesota Twins (MLB) (1982–2009)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA football) (1982–2008)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA baseball) (1985–2013)
Minnesota Strikers (NASL) (1984)
Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA) (1989–1990)
Minnesota United FC (NASL) (2012–2013)

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (commonly called the Metrodome) was a domed sports stadium located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. Opened in 1982, it replaced Metropolitan Stadium, which was on the current site of the Mall of America in Bloomington, and Memorial Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. From 1982 to 2013, the Metrodome was the home of the National Football League's (NFL) Minnesota Vikings, Major League Baseball's (MLB) Minnesota Twins from 1982 to 2009, the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Minnesota Timberwolves in their 1989-1990 inaugural season and the Golden Gophers football and baseball teams. It was also the home of the Minnesota Strikers of the North American Soccer League in 1984. On January 18, 2014, the Metrodome roof was deflated, signaling the beginning of demolition work. The Vikings will play at the University of Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium until the 2016 NFL season when the new Vikings Stadium is planned to open.

The stadium had a fiberglass fabric roof that was self-supported by air pressure and was the second major sports facility to have this feature (the first being the Pontiac Silverdome). The Metrodome was similar in design to the former RCA Dome and to BC Place before that stadium was reconfigured with a retractable roof. The Metrodome was reputedly the inspiration for the Tokyo Dome.[10][11] The stadium was the only facility to have hosted a Super Bowl (1992), World Series (1987, 1991), MLB All-Star Game (1985) and NCAA Division I Basketball Final Four (1992, 2001).

The Metrodome was the ninth-oldest stadium in the NFL. Locally, the Metrodome had several nicknames such as "The Dome",[12] "The Thunderdome",[13] and "The Homer Dome".[14] Preparation for the demolition of the Metrodome began the day after the facility hosted the final home game for the Minnesota Vikings on December 29, 2013, with actual demolition beginning on January 18, 2014.[15][16] The Metrodome was torn down in sections while construction began on the new facility,[17] whose working name is Vikings Stadium.

History[edit]

An entrance to the Metrodome.

By the early 1970s, the Minnesota Vikings were unhappy with Metropolitan Stadium's relatively small capacity for football (just under 48,500). Before the AFL-NFL merger, the NFL had declared that stadiums smaller than 50,000 capacity were not adequate for their needs. The biggest stadium in the area was the University of Minnesota's Memorial Stadium, but the Vikings were not willing to be tenants in a college football stadium and demanded a new venue. Supporters of a dome also believed that the Minnesota Twins would benefit from a climate-controlled stadium to insulate the team from harsh Minnesota weather later in the season. The Met would have likely needed replacing in any event, as it was not well maintained. Broken railings and seats could be seen in the upper deck by the early 1970s, and by its final season they had become a distinct safety hazard.

Construction success of other domed stadiums, particularly the Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit, paved the way for voters to approve funding for a new stadium. Downtown Minneapolis was beginning a revitalization program, and the return of professional sports from suburban Bloomington was seen as a major success story. A professional team hadn't been based in downtown Minneapolis since the Minneapolis Lakers left for Los Angeles in 1960.

Construction on the Metrodome began on December 20, 1979, and was funded by a limited hotel-motel and liquor tax, local business donations, and payments established within a special tax district near the stadium site.[18] Uncovering the Dome by Amy Klobuchar (now a U.S. Senator) describes the ten-year effort to build the venue.[19] The stadium was named in memory of former mayor of Minneapolis, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, who died in 1978.[20]

The Metrodome itself cost $68 million to build—significantly under budget—totaling around $124 million with infrastructure and other costs associated with the project added.[5] It was a somewhat utilitarian facility (as was typical for most major-league facilities in Minnesota before 1988), though not quite as spartan as Metropolitan Stadium. One stadium official once said that all the Metrodome was designed to do was "get fans in, let 'em see a game, and let 'em go home."[21]

The 1985 MLB All-Star Game, several games of the 1987 and the 1991 World Series, Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, and the 1998-99 NFC Championship all were held at the Metrodome.

The NCAA Final Four was held at the Metrodome in 1992 and 2001. Duke University was the winner on both occasions. The Metrodome has also served as one of the four regional venues for the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship in 1986, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2006, and most recently, 2009 . The dome has also held first and second round games in the NCAA Basketball Tournament in addition to regionals and the Final Four, most recently in 2009.

The Metrodome was the only venue in the world to host a MLB All-Star Game (1985), a Super Bowl (1992), an NCAA Final Four (1992 & 2001), and a World Series (1987 & 1991).

The Metrodome was recognized as one of the loudest venues in which to view a game, due in part to the fact that sound is recycled throughout the stadium because of the fabric domed roof. Stadium loudness is a hot sports marketing issue, as the noise lends the home team a home advantage against the visiting team. The Metrodome was the loudest domed NFL stadium.[22] During the 1987 World Series and 1991 World Series, peak decibel levels were measured at 125 and 118 respectively comparable to a jet airliner—both close to the threshold of pain.[23][24]

The 1991 World Series is considered one of the best of all time.[25] The blue colored seat back and bottom where Puckett's 1991 World Series Game 6 walk off home run landed in Section 101, Row 5, Seat 27 (renumbered 34 after the home run in honor of Kirby), is now in the Twins archives, along with the gold colored back and bottom that replaced it for a number of years. The Twins reinstalled a blue seat back and bottom as well as Puckett's #34 on the seat where it remained until the final Vikings game of 2013 in the Metrodome when, as local media reported, a fan took the #34 plate off the seat. The original World Series armrests and hardware, as well as the replacement blue seat back and bottom, are now part of a private Kirby Puckett collection in Minnesota.

Seating capacity[edit]

Baseball[edit]

  • 54,711 (1982-1983)
  • 55,122 (1984-1985)
  • 55,244 (1986-1988)
  • 55,883 (1989-1994)
  • 56,783 (1995-1997)
  • 48,678 (1998-2003)
  • 45,423 (2004-2009)

Football[edit]

  • 62,220 (1982-1983)[26]
  • 62,345 (1984-1987)[27]
  • 63,669 (1988-1994)[28]
  • 64,035 (1995-1996)[29]
  • 64,152 (1997-1999)[30]
  • 64,121 (2000-2013)[31]

Basketball[edit]

80,000[citation needed]

Career-achievement events[edit]

  • The Metrodome was the scene of several players joining the 3000 hit club, including Eddie Murray, Dave Winfield, and Cal Ripken, Jr.
  • The Metrodome was the site of Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett's 99-yard run, on January 3, 1983 the longest run from scrimmage in NFL history, in a Monday night game that was won by the Minnesota Vikings.
  • Dwyane Wade recorded just the fourth triple double in NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament history on March 29, 2003.
  • On June 28, 2007, in the top of the first inning, Frank Thomas hit a three-run home run to left-center against Carlos Silva for his 500th career home run. He was later ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
  • On September 30, 2007, Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers threw his record-breaking 421st career touchdown pass to Greg Jennings while playing the Vikings at the Metrodome.
  • On November 4, 2007, Antonio Cromartie of the San Diego Chargers returned a 57-yard field goal attempt, which was short, 109 yards for a touchdown, which became the longest play in NFL history. In the same game, Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings, had 30 carries for an NFL single-game record 296 rushing yards, along with three touchdowns.
  • On November 30, 2008, against the Chicago Bears, Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte threw a 99-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian, tying an NFL record for longest pass.
  • On July 28, 2009, White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle broke the MLB record for consecutive batters retired. The record was 41; Buehrle retired 45 in a row. His record includes his perfect game tossed on July 23, 2009.
  • On October 5, 2009, with a 30-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers, his former team, Brett Favre of the Vikings became the first quarterback in NFL history to defeat each of the league's 32 franchises.[32]
  • On October 27, 2013, in a 44-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Viking Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown. This tied the longest play in NFL history.[33] The previous 109 yard play also took place at the Metrodome, as mentioned above.

Features[edit]

Since the stadium was built, the economics of sports marketing have changed. Teams are charging higher prices for tickets, and are demanding more amenities, such as bigger clubhouses and locker rooms, more luxury suites, and more concession revenue. To that end, pressure has been applied by team owners, media, and fans to have the State of Minnesota provide newer, better facilities to host the teams. The Metrodome has served its primary purpose, to provide a climate-controlled facility in which to host the three sports tenants in Minnesota with the largest attendance. The indoor venue is particularly welcome in the highly variable climate of Minnesota.

For Major League baseball, the Metrodome was widely thought of as a hitter's park, with a low (7 ft) left-field fence (343 ft) that favored right-handed power hitters, and the higher (23 ft) but closer (327 ft) right-field Baggie that favored left-handed power hitters.[34] Because the roof is very nearly the same color as a baseball, and transmits light, the Metrodome had a far higher error incidence than a normal stadium during day games, so instead of losing a fly ball in the sun, as is common for non-roofed stadiums, fly balls could easily get lost in the ceiling. Unlike most parks built during this time, Metrodome's baseball configuration had asymmetrical outfield dimensions.

It gave up even more home runs before air conditioning was installed in 1983. Before 1983, the Dome had been nicknamed "the Sweat Box."[1] The Metrodome is climate controlled, and has protected the baseball schedule during the entire time it was the venue for the Minnesota Twins. Major League Baseball schedulers had the luxury of being able to count on dates played at Metrodome. Doubleheader games only occurred when purposely scheduled. The last time that happened was when the Twins scheduled a day-night doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals on August 31, 2007. The doubleheader was necessitated after an August 2 game vs. Kansas City was postponed one day after the I-35W Bridge collapse in downtown Minneapolis.

Roof[edit]

Metrodome roof (1982–2010)
Metrodome roof (2011-2013)

The Metrodome's air-supported roof was designed by the inventor of air-supported structures, David H. Geiger, through his New York-based Geiger Berger Associates, and manufactured and installed by Birdair Structures.[35] An air-supported structure supported by positive air pressure, it required 250,000 ft³/min (120 m³/s) of air to keep it inflated. The air pressure was supplied by twenty 90-horsepower fans.[36] The roof was made of two layers: the outer layers were Teflon-coated fiberglass and the inner was a proprietary acoustical fabric. By design, the dead air space between the layers insulated the roof; in winter, warm air was blown into the space between layers to help melt snow that had accumulated on top. At the time it was built, the 10 acres (4.0 ha) of fabric made the roof the largest expanse ever done in that manner.[37] The outside Teflon membrane was 1/32 of an inch thick and the inner liner of woven fiberglass was 1/64 of an inch thick.[38] The entire roof weighed roughly 580,000 pounds. It reached 195 feet (59 m), or about 16 stories, at its highest point.[39]

To prevent roof tears like those that occurred in its first years of service, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission adopted a twofold strategy: When snow accumulation was expected, hot air was pumped into the space between the roof's two layers. Workers also climbed on the roof and used steam and high-powered hot-water hoses to melt snow.[40] In addition, before the storm that caused the December 2010 collapse, the inside of the stadium was heated to nearly 80 °F (26.7 °C).[38]

To maintain the differential air pressure, spectators usually entered and left the seating and concourse areas through revolving doors, since the use of regular doors without an airlock would have caused significant loss of air pressure. The double-walled construction allowed warmed air to circulate beneath the top of the dome, melting accumulated snow. A sophisticated environmental control center in the lower part of the stadium was manned to monitor weather and make adjustments in air distribution to maintain the roof.

Because it was unusually low to the playing field, the air-inflated dome occasionally figured into game action. Major League Baseball had specific ground rules for the Metrodome. Any ball which struck the Dome roof, or objects hanging from it, remained in play; if it landed in foul territory it became a foul ball, if it landed in fair territory it became a fair ball. Any ball which became caught in the roof over fair ground was a ground rule double. That has only happened three times in its history – Dave Kingman for the Oakland Athletics on May 4, 1984,[41] University of Minnesota Gophers player George Behr and Corey Koskie in 2004. The speakers, being closer to the playing surface, were hit more frequently, especially the speakers in foul ground near the infield, which were typically hit several times a season, which posed an extra challenge to infielders trying to catch them. However, beginning with the 2005 season, the ground rules for Twins games were changed such that any batted ball that struck a speaker in foul territory would automatically be called a foul ball, regardless of whether or not it was caught. The dome's roof color made it close to impossible to catch balls without taking the eye off the ball. As a result, fielders frequently lost balls in the roof. An example of this is seen in a home run derby put on by a softball entertainment crew prior to a Twins game. Taken at field level, the balls generally tended to be lost in the roof.[42] The roof is high enough that it has never been a concern for events other than baseball.

1980s roof incidents[edit]

Five times in the stadium's history, heavy snows or other weather conditions have significantly damaged the roof and in four instances caused it to deflate.[43] Four of the five incidents occurred within the stadium's first five years of operation:

On November 19, 1981, a rapid accumulation of over a foot of snow caused the roof to collapse, requiring it to be re-inflated. It deflated the following winter on December 30, 1982, again because of a tear caused by heavy snow. This was four days before the Vikings played the Dallas Cowboys in the last regular-season game of the 1982 NFL season. In the spring following that same winter, on April 14, 1983, the Metrodome roof deflated because of a tear caused by a late-season heavy snow,[44] and the scheduled Twins' game with the California Angels was postponed. On April 26, 1986, the Metrodome roof suffered a slight tear because of high winds, causing a nine-minute delay in the bottom of the seventh inning versus the Angels; however the roof did not deflate.

2010 inspection[edit]

Birdair had conducted a regular inspection of the Metrodome roof in April 2010. Its report to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission stated that "the outer membrane is in good condition and still holding up well", and rated the inner liner's condition as "fair to poor".[45] The inspectors also noted that the inner liner of the roof was dirty (mostly due to emissions from automotive events) and had some holes in it, advising that the holes be monitored to avoid large tears from enlarging. In addition, Birdair noted some minor areas on the outer membrane that needed repairing, which were done by the time of the Commission's July regular meeting. Overall, Birdair noted the membrane was weathering as anticipated and had exceeded its service life of 20 years; it recommended planning for replacement of the roof fabric, and noted that planning and implementation would take an additional five years and cost $12–15 million.[45] In forming their own conclusion, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission staff decided that the outer membrane was in very good shape and that the roof continued to have serviceable life, and planned to schedule another testing in four years; the Commission made no recommendations.

2010 roof incident and replacement[edit]

The deflated roof, a day after heavy snow and high winds from the December 11, 2010 blizzard caused the roof to tear and deflate.

A severe winter storm arrived on December 10–11, 2010, with over 17 inches (43 cm) of snow accumulation, and strong winds; those winds made the roof unsafe for the snow removal crew. As the workers were pulled back, the roof was already sagging in the center. On December 12 at about 5:00 a.m., the roof had a catastrophic collapse as three panels tore open. The night before, a Fox Sports crew setting up for an upcoming Vikings game noticed water leaking from the roof and kept their cameras on all night; those cameras captured the roof tearing and ice and snow falling into the stadium.[38][46] No one was injured. Most of the roof sagged and came to rest on cable stays. The collapse caused no damage inside the stadium aside from a light fixture and some seats. The turf was not damaged; a drainage system designed for cleaning purposes allowed the field to dry out.[47] On December 15, 2010, a fourth panel ripped open, sending more snow and ice into the dome.[48]

The Vikings and the New York Giants had been scheduled to play a football game on the afternoon of December 12. The game had already been postponed to Monday night, the 13th, due to concerns of stadium officials.[49] Because of the tears in the roof, the NFL relocated the game to Ford Field in Detroit. The league considered moving that game to the University of Minnesota's nearby TCF Bank Stadium, but it had been shut down and winterized for the season and would have needed several days to prepare for a football game.[38][50] Tickets to the game were free, and the Giants ended up winning the game. Due to roof repair time estimates, the Vikings December 20 game against the Chicago Bears was moved to TCF Bank Stadium.[51] The final two games for the 2010 Minnesota Vikings season already were scheduled as road games, and the team had already been eliminated from the playoffs.

The Gophers' first baseball game of their 2011 season at the Metrodome was scheduled for February 5.[52] However, on December 29, it was announced that the roof would not be repaired until the spring of 2011.[53] As a result, the Gophers were forced to cancel scheduled home games in March against Washington State, Hamline, North Dakota State, and Cal State Bakersfield as well as the annual Metrodome Tournament. A second tournament, the Dairy Queen Classic, was moved to Tucson, and a scheduled home series against Cal Poly was moved to Cal Poly.[54]

On February 10, 2011, it was announced that the entire Metrodome roof needed to be replaced at an estimated cost of $18 million.[45][47][55][56] In November 2010, the University of Minnesota men's baseball team had announced plans to play all of their 2011 games at the Metrodome; however, the roof collapse caused those plans to be abandoned. On February 18, 2011, the Gophers announced that all 12 scheduled Big Ten home games in April and May would be played at Target Field, with three non-conference games moved to on-campus Siebert Field.[54]

New roof in early August 2011

On July 13, 2011, it was announced that the roof was repaired and had been inflated that morning. However other construction and repairs were still in progress. The remaining construction and repairs were done by August 1, 2011.[57]

The field[edit]

Metrodome field, in its baseball configuration. The football markings are slightly visible under the turf.

During its early years of operation, the field at the Metrodome was surfaced with SuperTurf.[58] The surface, also known as SporTurf, was very bouncy—so bouncy, in fact, that Billy Martin once protested a game after seeing a base hit that would normally be a pop single turn into a ground rule double.[21] Baseball and football players alike complained that it was too hard.

This surface was upgraded to Astroturf in 1987, and in 2004, the sports commission had a newer artificial surface, called FieldTurf, installed. FieldTurf is thought to be a closer approximation to natural grass than Astroturf in its softness, appearance, and feel. A new Sportexe Momentum Turf surface was installed during the summer of 2010.[59][60] When the conversion between football and baseball took place, the pitcher's mound was raised and lowered by an electric motor. The mound weighed 23,000 pounds and was 18 feet in diameter.[3] With the field repair, the sliding pits and pitcher's mound used by the Twins and Gophers have been removed. Any future baseball games will see baserunners slide on "grass." The homeplate area is being kept as it is not "in-play" for football configuration. The original homeplate installed at the dome was memorably dug up after the Twins' final game and has been installed at Target Field. A new field was installed in summer of 2011 due to the damage from the December 2010 roof collapse.

Plexiglas[edit]

From 1985 to 1994, the left-field wall included a six-foot clear Plexiglas screen for a total height of 13 feet (4.0 m).[3] It was off this Plexiglas wall that Twins player Kirby Puckett jumped to rob Ron Gant of the Atlanta Braves of an extra-base hit during Game 6 of the 1991 World Series (a game that Puckett would win with an 11th-inning walk-off homer) - in later years, with the Plexiglas removed, it would have been a potential home run ball.

The Baggie[edit]

Metrodome's "baggie" in right field.

The Metrodome's right-field wall was composed of the seven-foot-high (2.1 m) fence around the whole outfield and a 16-foot (4.9 m)-high plastic wall extension in right field, known as the "Baggie", or the "Hefty Bag." The seats above and behind the Baggie were home run territory; the Baggie itself was part of the outfield wall. Fenway Park's "Green Monster", a comparable but taller feature, is 17 feet (5.2 m) closer to home plate than the Baggie was, so batters who hit short, high fly balls were not typically helped by it. However, it was an attractive target for left-handed power hitters, and it was not uncommon for upper-deck home runs to be hit to right field. When in a rectangular configuration for football and other small-field events, the Baggie was taken down and the seats behind it extended to form complete lower-deck seating.

Stadium usage[edit]

Minnesota Vikings football[edit]

Inside the Metrodome during a Vikings game in 2013.
Action during a 1999 Vikings game, from a location similar to 2004 ALDS photo. Note the retractable seats in the lower-right portion of this photo.
Pre-game activities at a Vikings game in December 2007.

As the stadium was designed first and foremost for the Minnesota Vikings, they had the fewest problems. However, the economics of 21st century professional sports meant that the Vikings owners wanted more luxury suites and better concessions. Renovations were rejected twice, with the 2001 price tag at $269 million.[61]

The Vikings played their first game at the Metrodome in a preseason matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on August 21, 1982. Minnesota won 7-3. The first touchdown in the dome was scored by Joe Senser on an 11-yard pass from Tommy Kramer. The first regular-season game at the Metrodome was the 1982 opener on September 12, when the Vikings defeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 17-10. Rickey Young scored the first regular-season touchdown in the dome on a 3-yard run in the 2nd quarter. On January 9, 1983, the Vikings defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 30-24, in a 1st-round game that was the first playoff game at the Metrodome. On January 17, 1999, the Falcons defeated the Vikings in the first NFC championship game played at the dome. On December 29, 2013, the Vikings played their final game at the Metrodome, a 14-13 victory over the Detroit Lions. The team's all time record at the dome was 162-88 in the regular season and 6-4 in playoff games.

Super Bowl XXVI[edit]

NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXVI to Minneapolis over Indianapolis, Pontiac and Seattle.[62] during their May 24, 1989 meeting. The game on January 26, 1992 was the second Super Bowl to be played in a cold, winter climate city. The first one was Super Bowl XVI on January 24, 1982 in Pontiac, Michigan.

Minnesota Twins baseball[edit]

When opened in 1982, the Metrodome was appreciated for the protection it gave from mosquitoes, and later the weather.[24] Over the years there had been a love-hate relationship with the fans, sportswriters, and stadium.[24][63] The Minnesota Twins won two World Series championships at the Metrodome. The Twins won the 1987 World Series and 1991 World Series by winning all four games held at the Dome in both seasons.[64] The loud noise, white roof, quick turf, and the right-field wall (or "Baggie") provided a substantial home-field advantage for the Twins.[24] The 1991 World Series has been considered one of the best of all time.[25][65][66][67]

For Twins baseball, the address of the Metrodome became 34 Kirby Puckett Place, an honor given to one of the most famous Minnesota Twins players.[3] In 1996, a section of Chicago Avenue in front of the Metrodome was renamed Kirby Puckett Place by the city of Minneapolis.[68] The Metrodome Plaza was added along Kirby Puckett Place before the 1996 season.[3] Before that, the address for the Twins was 501 Chicago Avenue South. For baseball, the Metrodome informally has been called "The House That Puck Built."[69]

By 2001, several newer purpose-built Major League Baseball stadiums had been constructed, and the Metrodome was considered to be among the worst venues in Major League Baseball.[70][71][72]

2004 ALDS

Only two Twins games at the Metrodome were ever postponed. The first was on April 14, 1983, when a massive snowstorm prevented the California Angels from getting to Minneapolis. The game would have likely been postponed in any case, however; that night heavy snow caused part of the roof to collapse.[1] The second was on August 2, 2007, the day after the I-35W Mississippi River bridge had collapsed a few blocks away from the Metrodome. The game scheduled for August 1 was played as scheduled (about one hour after the bridge had collapsed) because the team and police officials were concerned about too many fans departing Metrodome at one time, potentially causing conflict with rescue workers. The August 2 ceremonial groundbreaking at the eventual Target Field was also postponed, for the same reason. The Metrodome would carry a memorial decal on the backstop wall for the remainder of the 2007 season.[73]

The Twins played their final scheduled regular season game at the Metrodome on October 4, 2009, beating the Kansas City Royals, 13-4. After the game, they held their scheduled farewell celebration. Because they ended the day tied with the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central, a one-game playoff between the teams was played there on October 6, 2009, with the Twins beating the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings. The division clincher would be the Twins' last win at the Metrodome. The announced crowd was 54,088, setting the regular-season attendance record.

The final Twins game at the Metrodome was on October 11, 2009, when they lost to the New York Yankees 4-1, resulting in three-game sweep in the 2009 American League Division Series. The Twins' appearance in this series gave Metrodome the distinction of being the first American League stadium to end its Major League Baseball history with post-season play. The only other stadiums whose final games came in the post-season are Atlanta Fulton County Stadium (1996), the Houston Astrodome (1999) and St. Louis's Busch Memorial Stadium (2005), all of which were home venues for National League teams.

Basketball[edit]

When configured as a basketball arena, the fans in the nearby bleachers got a suitable view of the court, but the action is difficult to see in the upper decks and is very far away. Concessions were very far away from the temporary infrastructure. Most NBA and major college basketball arenas run to a maximum of 20,000 seats. However, the NCAA tournament makes a significant amount of money selling seats for regional and championship games for the Men's basketball tournament.

Metrodome set up for the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament; temporary stands enclose the basketball court on two sides with the permanent stands on the other two.

Ten NCAA tournaments have taken place at the stadium:

The Timberwolves used the stadium for its home games during its inaugural season (1989–90) in the NBA while the team waited for construction of Target Center to be completed. The team set NBA records for the highest single-season attendance ever: 1,072,572 fans in 41 home games. The largest crowd for a single game occurred on April 17, 1990: 49,551 fans watched the T-Wolves lose to the Denver Nuggets in the last game of the season.

College football[edit]

Metrodome during Gophers game in 2003.

Beginning in the 1982 college football season, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers began playing their home football games at the Metrodome. The first game was a 57-3 victory over the Ohio Bobcats on September 11, 1982.[74]

With their move to TCF Bank Stadium, only two NCAA Division I FBS football programs now play indoors (Idaho and Syracuse, who play in on-campus domed stadiums (the Kibbie Dome and the Carrier Dome, respectively). When the Gophers first moved to the Metrodome, the NFL-class facilities were seen as an improvement over the aging Memorial Stadium. Initially, attendance increased.[75] However, fans waxed nostalgic over fall days playing outdoors on campus.[76] TCF Bank Stadium now provides an outdoor, on-campus venue for the team.

The Metrodome in 2008, before the 91st battle for the Little Brown Jug rivalry game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Michigan Wolverines.

College baseball[edit]

In the 2010 season, the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Baseball team played all of their home games at the Metrodome (with the exception of a game at the new Target Field on March 27, 2010).[77] The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers baseball has played games since 1985 during February and March because of weather. Later games were played at Siebert Field, except for 2006 when all but two home games were played at Metrodome. The team often played major tournaments at the Dome, which included the Dairy Queen Classic, where three other major Division I baseball teams play in an invitational. Prior to the NCAA's 2008 rule in Division I regarding the start of the college baseball season, the Golden Gophers would often play home games at Metrodome earlier than other teams in the area to neutralize the advantage of warmer-weather schools starting their seasons earlier in the year. Some early Big Ten conference games were played at Metrodome, and the Golden Gophers took advantage of the home field advantage during the early part of the season before the weather warmed, and the Gophers could play games on-campus. Other small colleges also played games in the stadium during the weeks before Metrodome was open for Division I play. In 2010, 420 amateur baseball and softball games—including the majority of the Golden Gophers' home schedule—were played at the Metrodome.[78]

The size of Siebert Field also affected the Golden Gophers starting in 2010. The Golden Gophers last hosted an NCAA baseball tournament regional in 2000, with temporary seating added. With the Metrodome being available for the tournament starting in 2010, the team could easily place a bid for, and have a better possibility of hosting, an NCAA baseball regional or super regional.

Other cold-weather teams have played at the Metrodome. Big 12 Conference member Kansas has played two series (2007 and 2010) at the Metrodome because of inclement weather against South Dakota State University and Eastern Michigan, respectively.[79]

Soccer[edit]

The Minnesota Kicks were supposed to move into the Metrodome for the 1982 NASL season. However the franchise folded in November 1981. The Minnesota Strikers played the 1984 NASL season at the Dome. MSHSL boys and girls soccer championships were also held at the stadium. The Minnesota Thunder played selected games at the Dome from 1990 to 2009. The Minnesota Stars FC opened their 2012 season at the stadium. The Minnesota United FC used the Dome for the 2013 NASL Spring Season. The field dimensions for soccer at the Metrodome were 110 by 70 yards (101 m × 64 m). The largest crowd to see a soccer game in Minnesota was at the Metrodome. 52,621 saw the Minnesota Strikers defeat Tampa Bay 1-0 on May 28, 1984.

Large concerts[edit]

The concert capacity of the Metrodome is around 60,000 people, depending on seating and stage configurations, which made it a profitable location for stadium tours during the late eighties and nineties. By comparison, the Target Center in Minneapolis has a concert capacity of up to 20,500. Acoustics at the Metrodome for these concerts were "iffy at best". [80]

Other events[edit]

Oddities[edit]

Stadium neighborhood[edit]

The Metrodome was constructed in an area of downtown Minneapolis known as "Industry Square".[84] Development in the Downtown East neighborhood around Metrodome took many years to materialize. For many years, there were few bars or restaurants nearby where fans could gather, and tailgating was expressly forbidden in most parking areas. The City of Minneapolis was directing the development of the entertainment districts along Seven Corners in Cedar-Riverside, Hennepin Avenue, and the Warehouse district. The Metrodome existed among a number of parking areas built upon old rail yards, along with defunct factories and warehouses. The Star Tribune owns a number of blocks nearby that have remained parking lots. Metrodome is not connected to the Minneapolis Skyway System, although that had been proposed in 1989 to be completed in time to host Super Bowl XXVI. The Star Tribune properties, and the Minneapolis Armory never have been developed, and stand between the Metrodome and the rest of Downtown Minneapolis. Only in recent years has redevelopment begun moving Southeast to reach the Metrodome. More restaurants, hotels, and condominiums have been built nearby. The METRO Blue Line light rail has connected the Minneapolis entertainment district with the Metrodome and the Airport.

Sight lines[edit]

The Metrodome was built as a football stadium that can convert into a baseball stadium. The seating configuration is almost rectangular in shape—something that suits football very well. The seats along the four straight sides directly face their corresponding seats on the opposite side, while the seats in the corners are four quarter-circles.

In most cases, this resulted in poor sight lines for baseball. For instance, the seats directly along the left field line faced the center field and right field fences. Unlike other major league parks, there were no seats down to field level.[21] Even the closest front-row seats were at least 5 or 6 feet (1.8 m) above the field.

The way that many seats were situated forced some fans to crane their necks to see the area between the pitcher's mound and home plate. Some fans near the foul poles had to turn more than 80 degrees, compared to less than 70 with the previous Yankee Stadium or 75 degrees at Camden Yards. For that reason, the seats down the left field line were typically among the last ones sold; the (less expensive) outfield lower deck seating tended to fill up sooner. Nearly 1,400 seats had obscured or partial visibility to the playing field – some of them due to the right field upper deck being directly above (and somewhat overhanging) the folded-up football seats behind right field; and some of them due to steel beams in the back rows of the upper deck which are part of the dome's support system.

On the plus side, there was relatively little foul territory, which is not typical of most domed stadiums. Also, with the infield placed near one corner, the seats near home plate and the dugouts, where most game action occurs, had some of the closest views in Major League Baseball. Seats in these areas were popularly known as "the baseball section". In 2007, some extra rows (normally used only for football) were retained for baseball, in the area behind home plate. The sight lines were also very good in the right field corner area, which faced the infield and was closer to the action than the left field corner.

The Twins stopped selling most of the seats in sections 203—212 of the upper level in 1996. This area was curtained off except during the postseason or on occasions when a sellout was anticipated.

Scheduling conflicts[edit]

As part of the deal with Metrodome, the Minnesota Twins had post-season priority over the Gophers in scheduling. If the Twins were in the playoffs with a home series, the baseball game took priority and the Gopher football game had to be moved to a time suitable to allow the grounds crew to convert the playing field and the stands to the football configuration.

The last month of Major League Baseball's regular season often included one or two Saturdays in which the Twins and Gophers used Metrodome on the same day. On those occasions, the Twins game would start at about 11 am local time (TV announcer Dick Bremer sometimes joked that the broadcast was competing with SpongeBob SquarePants). Afterward, the conversion took place and the Gophers football game started at about 6 pm. The University of Minnesota was the only school in the Big Ten that shared a football facility with professional sports teams for an extended period of years.

In 2007, there were two such schedule conflicts, on September 1 and 22. In 2008, there were no conflicts on the regular-season schedule.

Due to the minimum time needed to convert the field, a baseball game that ran long in clock time had to be suspended, and concluded the next day. The only time this happened was on October 2, 2004, when a game between the Twins and Indians reached the end of the 11th inning after 2:30 pm in a tie and resumed the next day.[85][86][87][88]

The Vikings had rights to the Dome over the Twins except for World Series games. In 1987, the Vikings' home date with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scheduled for the same day as Game 2 of the World Series was moved to Tampa, and the Vikings' game with the Denver Broncos scheduled for the same day as Game 7 was pushed back to the following Monday night.

The Twins' 2009 AL Central division tiebreaker with the Detroit Tigers was played on Tuesday, October 6, 2009. One-game playoffs are normally held the day after the regular season ends (in this case, the season ended on Sunday, October 4), but the Vikings were using Metrodome for Monday Night Football on October 5. The Twins were awarded the right to host the tiebreaker because they won the season series against Detroit.

Record NFL Plays[edit]

The Metrodome will also be remembered in NFL history as the site of four of the longest NFL touchdowns in history in terms of yardage. From scrimmage, only 14 plays have ever gone the maximum 99 yards for a touchdown in league history. The lone run in that list is by Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett against the Vikings on January 3, 1983 during a Monday Night Football game. One of the 13 such pass plays is Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte's connection with receiver Bernard Berrian during a game against the Chicago Bears on November 30, 2008.

Because returns can go longer than 99 yards, the Metrodome had also seen the record set for longest return at the maximum possible total of 109 yards. On November 4, 2007, the San Diego Chargers' Antonio Cromartie returned a missed Vikings field goal for a touchdown, a mark that stood unequaled until October 27, 2013, when Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson returned the Green Bay Packers' opening kickoff of Sunday Night Football, the maximum distance.

Naming rights[edit]

MoA signage at Metrodome.

In 2009, Mall of America purchased naming rights for the field at Metrodome. The contract stated that the field would be called "Mall of America Field at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome" for a three-year period, beginning October 5, 2009, and ending February 28, 2012.[89] The name was still used for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Despite possible inference from the signage, the MoA name applied only to the field, not the stadium as a whole. The building remained Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The connection between Mall of America and the Metrodome is also notable because Mall of America is built on the site of the former Metropolitan Stadium.

Replacement facilities[edit]

With the passage of time, Metrodome has been thought to be an increasingly poor fit for all three of its major tenants (the Twins, the Vikings and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team). These tenants have all said that the Dome is nearing the end of its useful lifespan.

One major complaint has been about the concourses, which are considered somewhat narrow by modern standards, making for cramped conditions whenever attendance is anywhere near capacity.[90] During a 2010 Vikings game, Fox Sports' Alex Marvez wrote that the Metrodome's passageways were so cramped that it would be difficult for fans to evacuate in the event of an emergency.[91] Two of the tenants, the Gophers (football) and Twins, have moved out, while the Vikings playing their final years there until a new facility will be built on the same site.

The Twins, the Vikings, and the Gophers all proposed replacements for the Metrodome, and all three have been accepted. The first of the three major tenants to move was the Gophers, who opened their new TCF Bank Stadium in September 2009. The next to depart were the Twins, whose new Target Field was completed in time for Opening Day 2010. On May 10, 2012, the Vikings were granted a new stadium by the Minnesota legislators that will be built on the Metrodome site and is projected to open in 2016. Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill on May 14.

Minnesota Twins[edit]

Main article: Target Field

The Twins moved to their new ballpark, Target Field, in 2010,[92] after attaining their new stadium with an effort that began in the mid-1990s. Although indoor baseball had critics when Metrodome opened, it was positively regarded by players and fans.[93] By 2001, with Metrodome's peculiarities revealed, and several newer purpose-built Major League Baseball stadiums constructed, an ESPN Page 2 reader poll ranked it as one of the worst Major League Baseball stadiums.[70] Twins management claimed Metrodome generated too little revenue for the Twins to be competitive; specifically, they received no revenue from luxury suite leasing (as those are owned by the Vikings) and only a small percentage of concessions sales. Also, the percentage of season-ticket-quality seats was said to be very low compared to other stadiums. From 2003 through 2009, the Twins had year-to-year leases, and could have moved to another city at any time. However, with no large American markets or new major-league-quality stadiums existing without a current team, it was accepted that the Twins could not profit from a move. The Twins sought a taxpayer subsidy of more than $200 million to assist in construction of the stadium. On January 9, 2005, the Twins went to court to argue that their Metrodome lease should be considered "dead" after the 2005 season. In February, the district court ruled that the Twins' lease was year to year and the team could vacate Metrodome at the end of the 2005 season.

In late April 2007, Hennepin County officially took over the future ballpark site (through a form of Eminent domain called "Quick-Take") which had been an on-going struggle between the county and the land owners. On October 15, 2007, the two sides reached a negotiated settlement of just under $29 million, ending the dispute. As a result, the county noted it would have to cut back on some improvements to the surrounding streetscapes, though it also revealed that the Pohlad family had committed another $15 million for infrastructure.[94]

University of Minnesota Gopher football[edit]

Main article: TCF Bank Stadium

The Minnesota Golden Gophers football program began playing in Metrodome for the 1982 season. Attendance was expected to increase over the old Memorial Stadium attendance, especially for late fall games, due to the climate controlled comfort. Initially, average attendance had increased over previous seasons at Memorial Stadium.[75] But, the venue was removed from the traditional on-campus football atmosphere if fans wanted to attend a Gophers football game. Students had to take a bus from the campus to the stadium. The distance from the main campus, along with poor performance by the Gopher football team, caused interest to wane.[95]

The Gophers officially moved back onto campus, to TCF Bank Stadium, for the 2009 football season. The University believed an on-campus stadium would motivate its student base for increased ticket sales, and also would benefit from athletic revenues, not only for the football program, but the non-revenue sports as well. The new stadium reportedly cost less than half of a current-era NFL-style football stadium, and was built on what were former surface parking lots just a few blocks east of the former Memorial Stadium, with the naming rights purchased by TCF Bank. The University of Minnesota expected to raise more than half the cost of the stadium via private donations. The Gopher Stadium bill was passed by both houses on May 20, 2006, the day before the Twins Stadium bill passed. On May 24, 2006, Governor Pawlenty signed the Gopher bill on the University campus.

Minnesota Vikings[edit]

Main article: Vikings Stadium

The Vikings initially supported a Superfund site in Arden Hills, but costs of developing infrastructure made the site unworkable.[96] A number of sites in Minneapolis were floated, before the team and state settled on a location adjacent to and including the current Metrodome site.[97]

On May 10, 2012, the Minnesota Legislature approved funding for a new Vikings stadium on that site. The project is projected to have a $975 million price tag, with the Vikings covering $477 million, the state covering $348 million, and $150 million covered by a hospitality tax in Minneapolis. The bill was signed by Governor Dayton on May 14. The Vikings played in the Metrodome until the end of the 2013 season.[9] The Vikings will then move to TCF Bank Stadium until the new stadium is complete.[98][99]

Demolition[edit]

With the approval of the new Vikings Stadium at the Dome site by the Minnesota legislature, the fate of the Metrodome was sealed. The Vikings played their final game at the Metrodome on December 29, 2013, beating the Detroit Lions 14-13.[100] The following day, a local company began removal of seats for sale to the public and various charities and nonprofits. Individual chairs went for $40/each to charities, $60/each to the public, and $80 a piece for specific seat requests.[101]

Roof deflated, the Metrodome on February 3, 2014.

The roof was deflated for the final time on January 18, starting at 7:15 a.m. The process took about 35 minutes.[102][103] After the deflation, demolition crews began cutting out individual panels of the teflon roof that would continue all the way up until the morning that the roof cables were severed, and no more than a week after the deflation, the entire loading dock section of the Metrodome was demolished. Much like the first few early phases of demolition, it was decided that the Metrodome would be torn down via wrecking ball, rather than implosion--due to the concern that vibration and dust from an implosion would have on nearby downtown Minneapolis neighborhoods and Hennepin County Medical Center, which sat kiddy-corner from the now-demolished Metrodome. The original demolition plan called for the Metrodome to be torn down section by section in a counter-clockwise motion (starting with the northeast corner of the stadium) as the exterior of the new stadium was built adjacent to and around the continuously-diminishing structure of the Metrodome, as this animation shows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDnJsZJsH-M However, when part of the concrete ring beam collapsed out-of-sequence during demolition on February 17 (additional information below), the order in which the sections were actually torn down was completely changed and rather disorganized. Nevertheless, all sections were successfully and eventually taken down and no setbacks in the demolition process occurred as a result of the ring beam collapse.

On the morning of February 2, 2014, just after 7:30 a.m., the steel support cables that stretched from end-to-end of stadium that held together the roof were severed, as construction crews set off a simultaneous set of 42 explosive charges that detached the cables from the concrete structure. The general public was not informed about this phase of the demolition process, prompting about a half-dozen phone calls to police from people who wondered what was going on. This was viewed as the final step before the destruction of the concrete bowl of the Metrodome would begin.[104][105] On February 10, 2014, shortly after 9:15 a.m., after more than two months of preliminary work that dated back all the way to the groundbreaking of the new Vikings Stadium, demolition of the stadium walls finally began.

The Metrodome on February 26, 2014, with about half of its walls demolished. These are the north and west stands.

On February 17, 2014, just after 1 p.m.--one week after demolition of the stadium bowl had begun--while demolition crews were working on taking down the concrete ring beam that encircled to top of the Metrodome, a portion of the ring beam collapsed out-of-sequence, bringing an immediate halt to the demolition process. No one was hurt and no equipment was damaged from the collapse.[106] After five days of investigation from structural and demolition experts, it was decided that the remaining portion of the concrete ring beam would be destroyed using controlled explosive charges--virtually the same method that was used to bring down the Metrodome's steel support cables for the roof. This second controlled explosion was a continued deviation from the original plan to not use explosives to destroy the stadium. However, it was determined that this was the safest way to bring down the remaining ring beam structure.[107] On February 23, 2014, just after 7:30 a.m., with 84 explosive charges of dynamite, set in 24 columns of the upper concourse of the stadium, the remaining ring beam and corners of the Metrodome were brought down in 11 seconds. Once the concrete ring beam was brought down successfully, this enabled demolition crews to continue with the original wrecking ball demolition method that was originally chosen (though the order in which the sections would be brought down were changed as a result of the ring beam implosion), to bring down what was left of the Metrodome. Despite this unexpected setback, Mortenson Construction said that the demolition of the Metrodome and construction of the new Vikings Stadium were both still on schedule.[108]

On March 15, 2014, at approximately 1 p.m., the final upper deck bleachers and concrete bleacher-support girders (on the northwest side of the Metrodome) were brought down, taking away any standing remnants exterior stadium walls. On April 11, 2014, just after 1:30 p.m., the final portion of the inner-stadium concrete walls (that were only visible due to the stadium's subsequent removal of the upper deck bleachers and baseball press box that stood in front of it) were reduced to rubble, marking the official end of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Demolition of the Metrodome was formally declared complete on April 17, 2014, just after 1 p.m.--one full month ahead of schedule--as the final truckload of rubble was loaded up and removed from the new stadium construction site. Officials from Mortenson Construction said the entire demolition job required 4,910 truckloads and 16,000 man hours to complete the job.[4]

Appearances in popular culture[edit]

  • In 1997's The Postman, Kevin Costner's character states that in post-apocalyptic America, President Richard Starkey governs "From the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. You know, where the Vikings used to play?"
  • The first game between the Buzz and the Twins in Major League: Back to the Minors is played at the Metrodome.
  • The Metrodome is one of the main settings of the 1994 film Little Big League, which is centered around the Twins.
  • On a Saturday Night Live skit, the Metrodome was mentioned as the location of an underground rock festival soon after the 2010 roof collapse.
  • Another SNL skit featured the Metrodome as the site of a Monday Night Football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Vikings though the focus was on the game's clueless announcers, including Dennis Miller, who were parodied.

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