I’m pretty sure Gardy feels strongly one way on this issue. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
It’s time for another round of Would you Rather! This time around, let’s try to decide if ballpark matters more than on-field product.
In 1982, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome housed the Minnesota Twins for the first time. The Dome was something. It was covered (obviously) so the weather was never a real concern. Some of the seats didn’t face the right way, since the stadium is home to the Minnesota Vikings as well. However, the stadium was huge, and the sheer volume of fans that it would hold contributed to a distinct home-field advantage for the Twins. It also didn’t hurt that the structure held in sound like you wouldn’t believe. Within 10 years, the Twins had won two World Series titles, before struggling through most of the ’90s. Between 2002 and 2009, the Minnesota Twins made the playoffs 5 times. The Twins experienced playoff baseball 7 times in the history of the Dome.
In 2010, Target Field became the new home for the Twins. The stadium is beautifully designed, with excellent architecture. The concourses are wide and easy to access from the seats. The ticket prices are nowhere near as cheap as late 2000s Metrodome tickets, but the prices are still reasonable. The food options at Target Field are vast, and the atmosphere in downtown Minneapolis is hard to beat. On the field, the Twins had a successful first season in their new home, making the playoffs and hosting the New York Yankees in the first round. The reviews of the new field were almost universally positive, and the concerns about playing outdoor baseball in Minnesota weather were forgotten very quickly.
Unfortunately, on-field success at Target Field is rapidly becoming a distant memory. The first year in Target Field was a success on the field and in the stands. Since then, the team has nose-dived and the attendance figures are dropping as well. Many people aren’t going to pay good money to watch a decrepit team just to sit outside. However, there are some casual fans who would rather go to a game at Target Field and watch a loss, than sit inside the Metrodome and watch a win. Others would gladly give up the beautiful architecture, if it ensured a return to on-field-turf success.
The Metrodome is not without some charm. You can’t have a rain-out (or snow-out for that matter) in a dome. The climate controlled atmosphere made for a pleasant game time temperature right around 70 degrees for each game. As someone who turns on their air conditioning around mid-April, I can get behind that. The tickets were so cheap! I remember when I was a student I could go to a Wednesday night game for 3 bucks. Add in dollar hot dog night and you could have a disgustingly filling meal for about 10 bucks (six dogs, one soda). In addition, since no one else liked the Dome, you could almost always move to better seats, usually within the first few innings. Of course, I sat here thinking of other good Dome qualities for a good 15 minutes and came up with nothing beyond AC, hot dogs, and my cheapness. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Target Field is obviously nicer. Much nicer in fact. Even a Dome defender like myself can admit that. I did get sunburned at Target Field once, which was not pleasant. However, that was probably at least 90% my fault. The food options are better, although the hot dogs are terrible (I don’t care if they are made in Minnesota either). The field is nicer, the seats all point out to the field, and the landscaping, architecture, and ambiance are light years ahead of the Dome. And even though they shouldn’t be, the parking and escape from the stadium at the end of the game are better as well. The fan experience gets an A+. All that being said, I am a fan of baseball teams and players, not stadiums. I would watch a winning team play at Frank Viola field in Shoreview.
Odds are, things will turn around and we will get to watch a winning team play at Target Field. But, what if they don’t turn around? What if the Twins never get back to the glory days spent at the Dome? What if our only options are to continue to watch a bad team play at a great stadium, or invent a time machine and go back to the days of winning in a Dome? What if you had to choose? Great stadium or great team, but not both? Which would you choose?
So, would you rather watch a winning team play in the Metrodome or watch a losing team play at Target Field? Please feel free to respond in the comments below.