As the Vikings played their final game in the Metrodome on Sunday, it was hard not to think about some of the memories the Twins had in that old stadium. The Metrodome is slated to be torn down in January, and much like the old Metropolitan Stadium, the Dome will come to represent a bygone era of Minnesota baseball.
To be clear, I think Target Field is a masterpiece, and I am very glad that the Twins got out of that godforsaken Dome before the roof caved in (literally).
If there is an analogy that better describes the plight of the Minnesota sports fan, I am not aware of it.
However, much like an angsty teenager who couldn’t wait to get out of high school, now that the moment has finally come, I can’t help but think back on some of the good times we had in that old place. I just thought we had more time. This is like Cowboy Slims all over again.
Gone, but not forgotten: RIP Bro Bar.
A couple of years ago I got a new car for the first time, and after driving it for about a week, I had to take my old car to a location where it would be donated. When I climbed into the car, I was shocked at the difference between the two vehicles, and then and there I vowed that I would take better care of my new car, and appreciate it in all the ways that it deserved. Of course, as things generally go, all things lose their luster over time. In many ways, after a few years of being spoiled (by the facilities rather than the play of the home team) at Target Field, it is odd to think about trying to watch a baseball game inside the Dome.
If this seems like it should be obvious, I will point out that the first outdoor Major League Baseball game I ever attended was at Target Field when it opened, so I didn’t really have much basis for comparison. When I was a kid there weren’t that many restaurants in my home town, and thus I was led to believe that “Going out to a nice dinner,” meant going to Applebee’s. In the same fashion, when I reflect on it now, it is clear that the Metrodome was a pretty awful place to watch a ballgame.
The concourse was unavoidably narrow, and would always seem to be crowded. Depending upon where you were sitting, your view of the field was often obstructed, and since the seats weren’t pointed towards the field you were always craning your neck for most of the game. The most damning aspect of the field, other than perhaps the troughs in the men’s bathrooms, was the fact that the seats were elevated about 15 feet off the ground, so you were always a degree removed from what was going on.
I attended countless games in the Metrodome over the years, but it wasn’t until I attended my first few games at Target Field, that I truly realized how tall Justin Morneau was, or how wonderfully awkward Delmon Young could look when playing the outfield. It was a completely different experience.
Target Field is an intimate setting that gives fans the perfect atmosphere to watch the best baseball players in the world compete. You are so close to the action that it doesn’t seem all that different from any game of baseball being played on any diamond in America, whereas every game at the Metrodome seemed more like a giant production.
You could always feel this separation.
This is just the short list about the flaws of the Metrodome, and I can’t imagine what the players must have thought about it. But after all of that, the obvious imperfections of the place, there was some kind of inherent charm to it. Some kind of horribly misplaced sense of Minnesotan pride and utilitarian efficiency. After all, the Metrodome was built to be a multipurpose stadium. It was never going to be a ballpark.
At one point a couple of years ago, TIME reported that the Metrodome was: “The Worst Stadium in America.” While few could really debate the veracity of such claims, when the place filled up, with the Twins at bat, while thousands of homer hankies danced to the breeze of the home run aiding air conditioner operators, the Metrodome became a magical place.
It was loud, it was overwhelming, it was everything we needed it to be and more. It was never pretty, but perhaps this contrast only served to underscore some of the amazing sights and sounds we experienced there. The Metrodome was an ugly house, but it was our ugly house, and for good or bad, for nearly 30 years it was a space that housed the collective support of every fan of the Minnesota Twins.
And if nothing else, just think about how many batting championships Joe won ripping those ground balls through the infield on the turf.