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The Metrodome, shown here in a 2006 photo, is now in the process of being dismantled. (Forum News Service photo by Duluth News Tribune)

Viewpoint: Metrodome was home to memories galore

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The date on my oldest Metrodome ticket stub reads May 17, 1983.

I’m well past the point where I can determine if it represented my first-ever game there, so I just assume it does.

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Yet there it remains – testament to the fact that the stub wasn’t exchanged for the convenience store pastry advertised on the back.

I’d love to be able to say I remember the experience – a Twins-A’s game – with total recall. I don’t. Come on, I was 7. Give me a break.

What I do know: It began a consecutive stretch of losses I witnessed at the dome that didn’t come to an end until 1986. Seriously. I briefly held the belief that my presence inside the dome threw a hex on the Twins. It wasn’t until later that I realized it was just a mix of bad luck and worse front-office management.

But like so many memories forged decades ago, recollections from that first game now exist in a series of flashes: Pushing through the revolving doors. Being awash in the concourse aroma of hot dogs and nachos. The brightness of the stadium during daylight hours. And an early understanding that it was an unusual place to play a ballgame.

And, of course, nearly being lifted off my feet by the blast of air that accompanied a Metrodome exit.

Indeed, from the beginning to Metrodome’s end – which commences now with its slow dismantling in preparation for the new Vikings stadium – critics have regarded it as a strange place for sports. Its sterile environment, rife with cinder-block walls and unending slabs of gray concrete, left many to conclude the place had no character. That assumption would fade by 1987, when Minnesotans at last came to love the dome, thanks to the success of a scrappy little baseball team supported by 60,000 Homer Hanky-waving fans raising decibel levels in their “Dome Sweet Dome.”

We barked at the institutional feel of the stadium and the fact that its seats were designed well enough for a football game, but left baseball fans along the baselines having to crane their necks for a look at the infield. We never got over that, but Metrodome’s multi-use capacity made for a venue that brought the very best of sports to the Twin Cities: a Super Bowl, two World Series, an MLB All-Star Game and a Final Four. The Gophers football team made it their home for years and the Timberwolves even held their inaugural season there while Target Center was being constructed.

It’s safe to say the memories made under that now-infamous roof are immeasurable.

I now pick through the old ticket stubs I’ve stashed away and realize how much I was able to enjoy inside that Teflon-covered tomb. I was fortunate enough to see the 1985 All-Star Game (albeit from a seat obstructed by one of the dome’s infamous upper-deck cement pillars), Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, a Timberwolves game, multiple NCAA Basketball Tournament games and – just for good measure – a monster-truck show. I’m not sure my ears ever fully recovered from the latter.

I even attended a baseball funeral there after Kirby Puckett died in 2006.

Meanwhile, Metrodome was home to its own little den of sin during the baseball season. Party-savvy Twins fans would duck into the Rally Room during second and sixth innings for two-for-one drinks. Vice was encouraged in this little-known space, which comprised the only known place inside Metrodome walls that allowed smoking. With the charm – and ventilation – of a Metrodome restroom, the Rally Room was more airport bar than festive pub. Still, memories of the place linger like so much stale cigarette smoke.

I’m still not sure how I’ll feel when the dome comes down for the final time. There’s a lot to which we’ll bid good riddance. As for the rest? Memories – only to remain only in our minds, photos and ticket stubs.

I guess I’d better continue  watching what I turn in at the convenience store.

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Michael Longaecker
Mike Longaecker is editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. His coverage includes local crime, legislative activity and prep sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
(651) 702-0973
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