Dome, Sweet Dome
For all the clichés about love, the one that rings most true is that it's complicated.
With that in mind, I must confess my deeply irrational affection for the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. You know the place: the Dome, the Hump, the Teflon Marshmallow, the Dump. I know, I know: Eww.
The place is a rattrap (or more accurately, a mousetrap, based on the critters that actually reside there), an architectural embarrassment with a groaner 1980s "aesthetic," a facility barely suitable for a football game and woefully inadequate for a baseball game. Sightlines, concourses, and concessions are essentially at bush-league level.
It may be among the most maligned stadiums of all time, but the Metrodome also has one of the most illustrious histories. It hosted two remarkable World Series wins for the Twins, a major-league All-Star game, Super Bowl XXVI, and two NCAA Final Four men's basketball championships—a résumé no other stadium can boast. Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead put on a historic show there, and the Rolling Stones and Billy Graham became semi-regular sell-outs.
The Dome opened on time in April 1982, and $2 million under budget at $87.3 million in public bonds and taxes. (Contrast that with the proposed $1 billion for a new Vikings stadium.) For that modest sum, Minnesotans received a facility that's in use 300 days per year, for events as varied as high school sports tournaments, Promise Keepers conventions, monster-truck rallies, and open Rollerblading. You can rent the place for your softball league, or just a big party. If ever there were an argument for function over form, the Dome would be Exhibit A.
"You'd be amazed at how many people think of it because it's connected with a great moment in their lives," says Bill Lester, longtime head of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the entity that oversees the Dome. "My favorite is the guy in the feed cap and overalls from Milaca who tears up because he once watched his grandson play his final high school football game there."
At the groundbreaking for the Twins stadium on August 30, Kent Hrbek, the hometown poster boy for the Twins, summed it up best when he recalled growing up in the shadow of the old Met Stadium in Bloomington with dreams of playing outdoor baseball. "I got to play one year in the old Met Stadium, and they move me into that dump over there on the other side of town," Herbie recalled, gesturing toward the Dome. "But believe me, we had some great times in there, and some great memories, and I'm going to miss the place."
The Twins and Gophers are watching construction of their own respective stadiums. At the very least, the Vikings will end up with a radically refurbished facility, if not a new one altogether. In other words, the Dome as know it will likely be gone within five years. With that in mind, here's our completely subjective countdown of the best and worst times at the old Humpty dome.
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