Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome: Wikis

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Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
The 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
Broke ground December 20, 1979
Opened April 3, 1982
Owner Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission of Minnesota
Surface FieldTurf (2004-present)
AstroTurf (1987-2003)
SuperTurf (1982-1986)
Construction cost $68 million
Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Capacity Baseball: 46,564[1] (expandable to 55,883)
American football: 64,111
Basketball: 50,000[2]
Field dimensions Left Field: - 343 ft (105 m)
Left-Center: - 385 ft (117 m)
Center Field: - 408 ft (124 m)
Right-Center: - 367 ft (112 m)
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: - 16 feet (right field)
Tenants
Minnesota Vikings (NFL) (1982-present)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA baseball)
(1985-present)
Minnesota Twins (MLB) (1982-2009)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA football) (1982-2008)
Minnesota Strikers (NASL) (1984)
Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA) (1989-1990)
Super Bowl XXVI (1992)
NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
(1986, 1989, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009)

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, often simply called The Metrodome, is a domed sports stadium in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The field was renamed Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in October 2009. Opened in 1982, it replaced Metropolitan Stadium, which was on the current site of the Mall of America in Bloomington (which, beginning a three year deal on October 5, 2009, now holds naming rights for the Metrodome's field[3]), and Memorial Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. The Metrodome is home to the National Football League's Minnesota Vikings, and is occasionally used by the Big Ten's University of Minnesota Golden Gophers baseball team. The stadium was also the home of the Minnesota Twins from 1982 to 2009 and the Golden Gophers football team from 1982 to 2008.

The stadium is 28 years old, making it the ninth oldest stadium in the National Football League. Locally, its common nickname is simply The Dome.[4] The stadium is well known for its fiberglass fabric roof that is self-supported by air-pressure. The Metrodome was also the second major sports facility to have a domed roof supported completely by air, the first being the Pontiac Silverdome. The Metrodome is similar in design to BC Place Stadium and the RCA Dome.

Contents

History

An entrance to the Metrodome.

By the early 1970s, the Minnesota Vikings weren't happy with its relatively small capacity for football (just under 48,500). In addition, the stadium was not well maintained; broken railings and seats could be spotted in the third deck by the early 1970s. Supports of a dome also believed that it would help Minnesota Twins with the frequently harsh weather conditions early and late in the baseball season at Metropolitan Stadium

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. [2] Uncovering the Dome by Amy Klobuchar (now a U.S. Senator) describes the ten-year effort to build the venue.[5] The stadium was named in memory of former mayor of Minneapolis, U.S. Senator and U.S. Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, who had died in 1978.[6]

The Metrodome cost $68 million to build—roughly $2 million under budget, a rarity for modern stadiums. It is a somewhat utilitarian facility, 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."[7]

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 is the only venue to host a MLB All-Star Game (1985), a Super Bowl (1992), an NCAA Final Four (1992 & 2001), and a World Series (1987 & 1991). It has been recognized as one of the loudest domed venues in which to view a game, due in part to the fact that sound is recycled throughout the stadium because of the 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 is the loudest domed NFL stadium.[8] 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.[9]

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Career-achievement events

  • 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 L. 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.
  • 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 every one of the league's 32 franchises.[10]

Features

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.

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.[11] 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, the 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 has been the venue for the Minnesota Twins. Major League Baseball schedulers have had the luxury of being able to count on dates played at the Metrodome. A doubleheader game only occurs 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.

The roof

The Metrodome roof.

The Metrodome's roof is made of two layers of Teflon coated fiberglass fabric, and is an air-supported structure supported by positive air pressure. It requires 250,000 ft³/min (120 m³/s) of air to keep it inflated. It is reputed to be the largest application of Teflon on Earth[citation needed].

To maintain the differential air pressure, spectators usually enter and leave the seating and concourse areas through revolving doors, since the use of regular doors without an airlock would cause significant loss of air pressure. The double-walled construction allows 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 is manned to monitor weather and make adjustments in air distribution to maintain the roof.

Three times in the stadium's history, heavy snows have caused a small puncture in the roof and caused it to deflate. Varying air pressure due to a severe storm once contributed to a dramatic deflation during a regular season baseball game. 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 also deflated on December 30, 1982 because of a tear caused by heavy snow. Four days before the Vikings played the Dallas Cowboys in the last regular season game of the 1982 NFL season. April 14, 1983 Metrodome roof deflated because of a tear caused by heavy snow and the scheduled Twin's game with the California Angels was postponed. It was the only postponement in Metrodome history until 2007. April 26, 1986, Metrodome roof suffered slight tear because of high winds, causing a nine-minute delay in the bottom of the seventh inning vs the Angels.

Because it is 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 twice in its history - Dave Kingman for the Oakland Athletics on May 4, 1984,[12] 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 roof is high enough that it has never been a concern for events other than baseball.

The field

The 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.[13] 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.[7] 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.

Plexiglas

Before 1995, the left-field wall included a six-foot clear Plexiglas screen for a total height of 13 feet (4.0 m). It was off this Plexiglas wall that former 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 walkoff homer) - in later years, with the Plexiglas removed, it would have been a potential home run ball.

The Baggie

The 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

Minnesota Vikings football

Action during a Vikings game, from a location similar to 2004 ALDS photo. Note the retractable seats in the lower-right portion of this photo.

As the stadium was designed first and foremost for the Minnesota Vikings, they have the fewest problems. As a location and playing field with new turf, it is still a suitable venue for football. The Vikings owners want more luxury suites and better concessions. They have twice rejected a renovation, with the 2001 price tag at $269 million.[14] Early fall weather has led to calls for a retractable roof, but climate control is still deemed a necessity for a season that runs through December.

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 in 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 in the Metrodome.

Baseball

Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball

The Minnesota Twins have won two World Series championships in the Metrodome (and winning both Series by winning all four games held at the Dome). The loud noise, white roof, quick turf, and the right-field wall (or "Baggie") provided a substantial home-field advantage for the Twins. Although for fan experience the Metrodome was widely considered one of the worst venues in Major League Baseball in its later years.[15][16][17]

2004 ALDS

The Twins only ever had to postpone a game twice while playing in the Metrodome. 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 1, 2007, when the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge collapsed a few blocks away from the Metrodome. The game scheduled for August 1 was played as scheduled because the team and police officials were worried about too many fans departing the Metrodome at one time, therefore causing conflict with rescue workers. The game, and ceremonial ground breaking on the new stadium, on August 2 was postponed to a later date due to the collapse of the bridge. The Twins played their final scheduled regular season game at the Metrodome on October 4, 2009, beating the Kansas City Royals, 13-4. Because they ended the day tied with the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central division, a one-game playoff between the two 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 54088, setting the regular-season attendance record.

The final Twins game played at the Metrodome was on October 11, 2009, when they lost to the New York Yankees, 4-1, resulting in a 3 games to 0 sweep in the 2009 American League Division Series. The Twins' appearance in this series gave the 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.

University of Minnesota Golden Gopher baseball

Starting in the 2010 season, the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Baseball team plays all of their home games at the Metrodome.[18] 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 the Metrodome . The team often played major tournaments at the Dome, which includes 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 the 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 are played at the Metrodome, and the Golden Gophers take advantage of the home field advantage during the early part of the season before the weather warms, and the Gophers can play games on-campus. Other small colleges also play games in the stadium during the weeks before the Metrodome is open for Division I play. This current year there will 238 games other than the University of Minnesota's schedule that run from February 4th until April 7th.

The size of Siebert Field also affects 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, 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 and Eastern Michigan, respectively.[19]

Basketball

When configured as a basketball arena, the fans in the nearby bleachers get a suitable view of the court, but the action is difficult to see in the upper decks and is very far away. Concessions are 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. Without a domed stadium, Minneapolis will no longer be able to host the NCAA championship game, and may even have trouble getting regional final games. On November 19, 2008, the NCAA announced host cities for the NCAA men's Final Four between 2012–2016 and Minneapolis was not selected.[20]

The 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.

Several NCAA tournaments have taken place at the stadium:

College football

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 in the Metrodome. The first game was a 57-3 victory over the Ohio University Bobcats on September 11, 1982.[21]

With their move to TCF Bank Stadium, only three NCAA Division I FBS football programs now play indoors (Idaho, Syracuse and Tulane). When the Gophers first moved to the Metrodome, the NFL class facilities were seen as an improvement over the aging Memorial Stadium.

When the Gophers first moved to the Metrodome from Memorial Stadium, attendance increased.[22] However, fans waxed nostalgic over fall days playing outdoors on campus.[23] TCF Bank Stadium will provide the outdoor, on-campus venue.

The Gophers shared the field with the Vikings and Twins. During the earlier part of the season, the baseball turf sections were visible just off the field of play. Many Big Ten teams had gone to some kind of turf because of the climate during the football season. Minnesota installed FieldTurf at its new stadium, joining Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa as teams in the Big Ten that play on an artificial surface.)

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

Other events

Oddities

Stadium neighborhood

Development in the Downtown East neighborhood around the Metrodome took many years to materialize. For many years there were few bars or restaurants nearby for fans to gather at; 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 run-down factories and warehouses. The Metrodome is not connected to the Minneapolis Skyway System, although that was planned in 1989 to be completed in time to host Super Bowl XXVI. Only in recent years has redevelopment begun moving Southeast to reach the Metrodome. More restaurants, hotels, and condominiums have been built nearby. The Hiawatha light rail line has connected the Minneapolis entertainment district with the Metrodome.

Sight lines

The Metrodome is not a true multipurpose stadium. Rather, it 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.

However, 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.[7] 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

As part of the deal with the 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 the 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 p.m. in a tie and resumed the next day.[25][26][27][28]

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 the 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.

Naming rights

MoA signage at Metrodome.

In 2009, Mall of America purchased naming rights at the Metrodome, resulting in the new full name "Mall of America Field at The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome". The contract expires after the end of the 2011 Vikings season.

Replacement facilities

With the passage of time, the 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. Two of the tenants, the Gophers and Twins, already have taken the steps to move out, while the Vikings are also seeking a new stadium. The building itself is structurally sound and could last decades without major repairs.[citation needed]

The Twins, the Vikings, and the Gophers all proposed replacements for the Metrodome, and two of the proposals have materialized. 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 will be the Twins, whose new Target Field will be completed in time for Opening Day 2010.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins will move to their new ballpark in 2010, after attaining their new stadium goal that began in the mid 1990s. Because the Metrodome was originally designed as a football stadium, its sightlines are very poor for watching a baseball game. Polls have consistently ranked it as one of the worst professional baseball stadiums in the Major Leagues.[15][17] Twins management claimed the Metrodome generated too little revenue for the Twins to be competitive; specifically, they receive 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 is said to be very low compared to other stadiums. Since 2003, the Twins have had year-to-year leases, and were permitted a move 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 the 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 a recent on-going struggle between the county and the land owners. The "official" ground-breaking for the new ballpark was postponed on August 2 due to the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge. 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.[29]

University of Minnesota Gopher football

The Minnesota Golden Gophers football program began playing in the 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. Unfortunately, this also required that students be removed from the traditional on-campus football atmosphere if they wanted to attend a Gophers football game, since they had to take a bus from the campus to the stadium. At times this inconvenience and distance from the main campus caused attendance to wain. However, average attendance had increased over previous seasons at Memorial Stadium.[22]

U of M officially moved back onto campus, to TCF Bank Stadium, for the 2009 football season. The University believes an on-campus stadium will 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 costs less than half of a current-era NFL-style football stadium, and is 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 is 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

The Vikings are thought to be the least hampered by their current situation in the Metrodome, but could move after their current lease expires, in 2011. An enormous market without a team exists for the NFL in Los Angeles. San Antonio has also been discussed as a possible site, during the years that San Antonio native Red McCombs owned the team, though the NFL Committee has never approved of these possible moves. A Los Angeles team would either require a new stadium, or major renovations to the Rose Bowl Stadium or Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Alamodome also is outmoded by current NFL standards, and would require major renovations.

The NFL and fans have pressured Minnesota governments to finance a new, revenue-generating stadium. Downtown Minneapolis as well as the suburb of Blaine have been explored as potential stadium sites. The Vikings are seeking taxpayer subsidy of more than $300 million to assist in construction of the stadium, which may also be used for the many other events currently taking place at the Metrodome.

On September 20, 2005 the Vikings and Anoka County reached an agreement to build a 68,000 seat retractable-roof stadium in Blaine, where the Vikings and the county would each pay $280 million and the state $115 million. It would have opened in 2009 or 2010 if approved by the legislature. After the approval of the stadium plan team owner Zygmunt Wilf dropped plans to include a roof of any kind, which would have severely limited the site's utility for year-round events in Anoka County. In November 2006 Anoka County officials pulled out of the partnership. In addition to unapproved site design changes the Vikings had started to work behind the scenes with officials from Minneapolis, the site of the current Metrodome. Anoka County believed it had an agreement to be an exclusive partner, and since County officials did not want to get into a bidding war with Minneapolis they withdrew from the project.

The Vikings and Minneapolis are currently conducting studies about redeveloping land around the Metrodome and building a new stadium, tentatively named the Vikings Stadium, on the same land as the Metrodome. If it were to happen, the Vikings would likely play at the new TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota starting in 2010 while a new stadium is constructed on the current site of the Metrodome.

Unlike previous owner Red McCombs, the present Vikings ownership has publicly disavowed any plans to remove the team from Minnesota. On May 17, 2006, the State Senate announced that any further work on the Vikings stadium bill would cease until the 2007 legislative session. The bill which authorized financing for the Twins Ballpark included provisions to prepare the field for a Vikings stadium deal in 2007, this was before Anoka County pulled out of the project. Wilf has more recently expressed interest in redeveloping the land on which the Metrodome currently sits. Local politicians are pushing the Vikings ownership to possibly renovate the Metrodome because of its location and existing infrastructure.[30]

On February 12, 2009, Lester Bagley, the team's Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development went on the record to the Minneapolis StarTribune stating that Governor Tim Pawlenty had done too little to advance the cause of a new Vikings Stadium. "With all due respect, he's been governor for six years, and he hasn't done anything," Bagley said of Pawlenty. "He hasn't lifted a finger to engage in a problem-solving discussion to help us on our issue. And that's the frustration that the NFL feels, that our ownership feels and a lot of our allies [feel], whether they be elected officials or not. There's a lot of frustration, and there's been no meaningful engagement by the executive branch."[31] This comment angered many fans given the economic recession at the time, and the repercussions of this act have yet to be measured.

On October 1, 2009, The Minnesota Vikings announced a partnership with Mall of America. The agreement named the field the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The naming rights agreement will last for a three year period and will end on February 28, 2012. As part of the agreement, the interior and exterior will have new signs posted as well as other material. The change took place on October 5, 2009; the day the Minnesota Vikings played against the Green Bay Packers winning (30-23).

Accessibility and transportation

The Metrodome is located near the junction of Interstate 94 and Interstate 35W, and many fans come by car. There is limited parking in surface lots throughout eastern downtown, ranging from $5 for a Twins game, to $50 for a close stall at a Vikings game. On-street meters provide the lowest parking rate, especially the "free evenings" meters near the heart of downtown six blocks from the Metrodome. A new option as of 2004 is the Downtown East/Metrodome station on the light rail Hiawatha Line. Many people also come by bus, whether on a charter or on the regular regional bus system.

Tailgating has often been a popular pre-game activity for football fans, and many nearby parking lots have been available in the past for people who want to start early. However, in recent years, new development in the downtown region of Minneapolis has meant that these parking lots have begun to disappear. In 2004, the Vikings offered fans a tailgating area in the huge parking lot known as Rapid Park. The area however is on the opposite side of downtown Minneapolis from the Metrodome itself, next to the Target Center, (although shuttle buses did go back and forth) and is the building site for the new Target Field which the Twins broke ground for in late August 2007.

Appearances in popular culture

  • In 1997's The Postman, Kevin Costner's character states that in post-apocalyptic America President Richard Starkey governs "From the Metrodome in Minneapolis. You know? Where the Vikings used to play!"
  • The climactic baseball game 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.

References

  1. ^ a b c Lowry, Phillip (2005). Green Cathedrals. New York City: Walker & Company. ISBN 0802715621. 
  2. ^ "About the Metrodome". Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. http://www.msfc.com/about.cfm. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  3. ^ "Vikings reach deal to play on 'Mall of America Field'". KARE. 2009-10-01. http://www.kare11.com/sports/sports_article.aspx?storyid=825713. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ ESPN.com MLB Park Factor
  5. ^ Klobuchar, Amy (April 1986). Uncovering the Dome (reprint ed.). Waveland Press. ISBN 0-8813321-86. 
  6. ^ Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission - History
  7. ^ a b c Smith, Curt (2001). Storied Stadiums. New York City: Carroll & Company. ISBN 0786711876. 
  8. ^ Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, is the loudest roofed stadium. Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, is the loudest outdoors stadium.
  9. ^ "Twins pack punch in Game 1 Homers by Gagne and Hrbek spark win over Braves", Associated Press, October 20, 1991
  10. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/recap?gameId=291005016
  11. ^ Major League Baseball ground rules
  12. ^ Green Cathedrals,1992 edition,p.57
  13. ^ "HHH Metrodome Information". TicketSolutions.com. 2007. http://www.tickets4u.com/info-metrodome.asp. Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  14. ^ Taking a last look at fixing the Dome for the Vikings. Star Tribune. Paul Levy. July 19, 2007 - "A Metrodome renovation is being studied, although Vikings officials say the site really isn't big enough by today's NFL standards."
  15. ^ a b http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/worstballparks/010503.html
  16. ^ http://armchairgm.wikia.com/index.php?title=Top_5_Worst_Stadiums,
  17. ^ a b http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/al/Metrodome.htm
  18. ^ Baseball - 2010 Schedule at gophersports.com, URL accessed December 29, 2009. Archived 12/29/09
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ http://www.visithoustontexas.com/media/press_releases.php?id=464&category=12865
  21. ^ Minnesota Gopher Football Media Guide 2009, University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics. 2009
  22. ^ a b University of Minnesota Football media guide p. 160 (PDF)
  23. ^ Wood, Bob (Robert) (1989). Big Ten country: a journey through one football season. Morrow. ISBN 0688089224.
  24. ^ "RollerDome Homepage". http://www.roller-dome.com/. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  25. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/02/sports/baseball/03TWINS-WIRE.html
  26. ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIN/MIN200410020.shtml
  27. ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIN/MIN200410030.shtml
  28. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/sports/baseball/06twins.html?_r=1&hp
  29. ^ Rochelle Olson, Stadium land feud ends with cost stretching to $29 million, Star Tribune, October 15, 2007.
  30. ^ http://www.rejournals.com/news/212156-plans-for-metrodome-to-be-revealed-soon
  31. ^ http://www.startribune.com/sports/vikings/39470607.html

External links

Preceded by
Metropolitan Stadium
Home of the
Minnesota Vikings

1982–present
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
Metropolitan Stadium
Home of the
Minnesota Twins

1982–2009
Succeeded by
Target Field
Preceded by
Memorial Stadium
Home of the
Minnesota Golden Gophers football

1982–2008
Succeeded by
TCF Bank Stadium
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Minnesota Timberwolves

1989–1990
Succeeded by
Target Center
Preceded by
Candlestick Park
Host of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game
1985
Succeeded by
Astrodome
Preceded by

Hoosier Dome
RCA Dome
NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

1992
2001
Succeeded by

Louisiana Superdome
Georgia Dome
Preceded by
Tampa Stadium
Host of Super Bowl XXVI
1992
Succeeded by
Rose Bowl
Preceded by
Candlestick Park
Host of NFC Championship Game
1999
Succeeded by
Edward Jones Dome

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