Metrodome memories

Posted: December 30, 2013 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized

On Sunday, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis hosted its last public sporting event – a Lions at Vikings game – before being dismantled and demolished. Eventually, it’ll be replaced by a sort of modern football-only model.

While hardly the nicest, the biggest or the most hallowed venue in the country, it’s been the big-time sports stadium in the region for my entire lifetime. Summer vacations and birthday parties and boys weekends – it was a destination for all of those things and more for people in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Maybe Iowa, too.

I can barely remember the names of my (many) children; Fury is Mr. Memory around here. Yet I’m able off the top of my head to think of at least a half dozen memorable experiences in the Dome – and I’ve never lived less than 200 miles from the place.

I saw my first MLB game there. Former Orioles great Brooks Robinson was there, playing in some sort of pre-game, old-timers event. I’d returned to see my hometown hero, longtime Angels standout Darin Erstad, play and later as part of a bachelor party. The latter was the most fun because the Twins were playing the Brewers, creating a rare bi-partisan fan experience.

I went to two Final Fours there. The first was pretty famous – Michigan and the Fab Five against the Hurley/Laettner/Hill rendition of Duke. I was in high school and went with my dad and younger brother. We bought tickets from a scalper, initially unaware that $1 in street lingo meant $100 in real money.

Duke won the second, too, the most memorable game of that Final Four being a semifinal comeback over Maryland. I hit this one up alone, having gained entry into a sports writing seminar for college kids. I got to meet Bob Ryan.

I went to probably a handful of Vikings games – usually on work assignments. But a personal trip stood out the most, going with my dad, grandpa and an uncle to see the Packers play. I’d just passed my driver’s test. Brett Favre got hurt and a young Mark Brunell helped the Pack push the game into overtime. That injury paled in comparison to one that happened near us in the upper deck, one dude throwing another by the collar headfirst down some steep cement stairs. It was brutal, and made me hesitant to return to cheer on my favorite team.

The Metrodome also hosted the Minnesota high school football playoffs with the first kickoff set (infamously) for 8 a.m. and continuing throughout the day. I once had to cover the early game after coming down with the flu in the middle of the night. And it really was the flu or food poisoning; I’m not one to come down with bottle sickness, although I can only imagine that’s what the rest of the media members thought. (“Hayseed comes to the big city and goes crazy.”) I made several trips into the pressbox bathroom to vomit during the game and pulled over at least twice during the four-hour drive home to barf on the side of the freeway.

I think I only attended one University of Minnesota game there, a testament to how much of a non-factor the Gophers long have been in the regional sports scene. It was a game against Ohio State, a convenient add-on to a weekend trip to visit a high school friend. The atmosphere was not what I imagined at a Big Ten school. But the trip was good, offering a glimpse of the college experience that I turned down at the last minute.

And now it’s going away. I’m sure people are waxing nostalgic like this all over the Upper Midwest, making Dome Dogs sound tastier than they were or painting the amenities to be worse. But there’s no disputing the breadth of memories that were made inside the old wind bag.

  1. shawnfury says:

    Those 8 a.m. games…we’d leave the morning of when I was in Worthington. Worst drives.

    Trinity Bible played an 8 a.m. game there during UMAC day. And you thought the 9-man final packed in the fans.

    Few memories: Kirby hitting a game-winning homer in front of all of us who went there on a school trip. I think it was for school crossing guards, but I wasn’t a guard so not sure how I weaseled my way in. But the crowd was chanting his name…and then he hit it.

    Another game, dude screaming at Dennis Eckersley to get a haircut. Drunk dude. Adding a friendly expletive everytime before the word haircut.

    One game they had some promotion where you made paper airplanes and tried throwing them into the window of a car on the field, which you’d then win. (I don’t think anyone did). But a guy in front of us spent the entire nine innings building an army of paper airplanes. He was like the U.S. going into production for World War II.

  2. Rich Jensen says:

    Small note: The U of M will be playing baseball at the new venue (which means SDSU can continue to go there and play games at 2AM, or something.)

  3. Mike says:

    I won’t miss peeing in the trough, a raging river of urine. Gross. I will never forget my oldest son’s reaction to the trough. Even a 6 year old had too much dignity to whiz there and we waited for a stall. One of my favorite personal Metrodome memories was getting a bloop single and not making the last out in a varsity baseball game against WEM in front of 200 people during my junior year.

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