Metrodome was multi-purpose

Published 8:49 am Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority sold the new Vikings stadium to the state’s citizens and legislators last year as a multi-purpose stadium.

At the unveiling of the new stadium, the authority, along with Vikings owners, not only showcased the structure’s transparent roof and big, pivoting glass doors, but concept photos of it being used for rock concerts, Gophers baseball games and monster truck rallies. They even mentioned hope of the stadium to attract a Major League Soccer team to Minneapolis and World Cup matches.

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Showing the stadium hosting more than Vikings games was smart because it’s hard to swallow paying $1 billion for a stadium that’s only going to be used eight times a year.

We won’t know for a few years how much traffic the new Vikings stadium will get, but we do know it will never get as much as its predecessor, the Metrodome, which hosted its final event on Sunday before turning the lights off for good.

The Metrodome was the ultimate multi-purpose facility and a workhorse in downtown Minneapolis for 31 years. It is the only stadium to have hosted a Super Bowl, World Series, MLB All-Star Game and NCAA Final Four, which it did twice in 1992 and 2001.

The Metrodome also hosted Albert Lea native Ben Woodside’s first and only NCAA tournament appearance with North Dakota State.

What makes the Metrodome special to those of us who grew up in ’80s and ’90s is that it was likely the only place you went to watch Minnesota sporting events. Whether you attended Twins, Vikings or Gophers football games, you sat in the Dome’s uncomfortable blue seats and were blown out into the cold through its revolving doors.

Only if you went to a Gophers basketball or hockey game at the University of Minnesota were you somewhere other than the Metrodome.

While I have many fond memories of the Metrodome, including playing flag football there as a child and covering Vikings games while I worked for the Tribune, it kept me hidden indoors.

It wasn’t until I was 21 years old that I watched an outdoor MLB or college football game — at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City and TCF Bank Stadium, respectively — and I just attended my first outdoor NFL game on Sunday at LP Field in Nashville.

The Metrodome was one of the dumpiest professional sports venues in the United States, but without Target Field or TCF Bank Stadium to compare it to, we didn’t know any better.

Minnesota sports fans are now blessed with some of the best facilities in the nation, whether we want to watch the Twins, Gophers or Wild. We spent years, though, slowly steering through cramped corridors and watching baseball under a teflon roof even on perfect Minnesota summer nights.

Former Vikings center Matt Birk said it best: “Although it might not be perfect, it was us.”

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Tuesday.