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It's the signature of the Minneapolis skyline, and for nearly 30 years, the headquarters of Minnesota sports.
"It was the last multipurpose facility built in the country," said Jerry Bell, President of Twins Sports, Inc. "And football and baseball after that tended to go into their own facility for that particular sport."
When the Metrodome was built, its design was unique, its roof was ten acres of teflon and fiberglass fabric held up by air pressure. Japanese tourists were so impressed, they built their own version of the Metrodome just six years later in Tokyo.
"It's got to be the only facility in the country where you get blown out of the facility," said Minnesota Twins President Dave St. Peter. "As a kid, I thought that was really, really cool. I think there are kids today who think that's neat. It's strange, but it's neat."
Fans got their first look at the dome during its opening ceremonies, and the Twins made their dome debut with in their home opener with the Mariners on April 6, 1982.
"I remember the first game somebody threw a cherry bomb on the field as a statement in protest to moving the game of baseball indoors," said Twins Broadcaster Dick Bremer. "So it did not come without controversy."
And it did not come without criticism. Bud Selig, Major League Baseball commissioner, called the Metrodome "strange." Tony La Russa, then managing the Chicago White Sox, said it was a "disgrace to baseball." And in many ways, especially in its early years, the Metrodome had some problems.
"The architect said from the sidewalk to the playing field is 47 feet and we didn't need air conditioning," recalled Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek. "Well, once you got out of the dugout and walked onto the field, it was like putting your head in the oven. My wife's mascara was running, and she looked like a wet rat sitting in the stands!"
And even with an indoor stadium, weather was still a factor. Three times heavy snow caused the Metrodome roof to deflate. Once a thunderstorm rocked the roof and knocked out power. And through it all, the Twins tried to tweak the dome to make it their own The original plan did not have the baggie in right field," St. Peter said. "The turf was incredibly bouncy. And over time I think it's become a better park from a baseball perspective."
Players say the field has sure gotten better. In its early years, the dome had Superturf, known for being bouncy and hard. In 1987, the dome got Astroturf. And for the last five years, it's had Fieldturf. And while each change has brought the dome closer to the feel of natural grass, those who know it best say it's never felt like the real thing.
"I was a tobacco chewer back then," said former Twins player Ron Coomer, "And you felt like you were inside and you couldn't spit on the floor!"
But being inside was not without its advantages. Known as one of the loudest stadiums in sports, the Metrodome was never noisier than during the 1987 and 1991 World Series games, when the sound inside was measured as being louder than a jet. Twins fans will never forget the thrill of watching the team win those titles in the dome, those victories among the greatest moments in Minnesota's sports history, and in the Metrodome's.
But as the Twins' success grew, so did their demand for a better building.
"We don't have parking, we don't have advertising, we don't have anything that all the other baseball parks have," said Twins Owner Carl Pohlad in 1997. "And so it's impossible to operate under the present stadium."
So the Twins began plans to build a new one. Started in 1995, their quest took ten years and several tries before lawmakers approved the construction of a new Twins ballpark. Now Target Field is nearly ready to become the Twins' new home.
"This place will empty out and then we'll all be up (in the Metrodome press box) writing our stories going, 'This is the last time,'" said Joe Christensen, Minneapolis Star Tribune baseball reporter.
The last Metrodome autograph party. The last opening day. The last time Twins fans will ever watch baseball in the place that's been home to so many games, and so many greats.
"The Tony Olivas and Harmon Killebrews never played there," said former Twins player Kent Hrbek. "Now the Kent Hrbeks and Kirby Pucketts are never going to play (at Target Field). It's a new chapter in Twins baseball."
It may never have been pretty. It may now not be popular. But the Metrodome is forever part of Minnesota.
"It will be special," said Twins pitcher Joe Nathan. "A good moment at the end: the last series here for a lot of people and a lot of people in this city."
"When I was in the minor leagues trying to get here, that's all I could think about was playing in the Metrodome and all the history in the air," said former Twins player Torii Hunter. "So I'm definitely going to miss this place." "They have the red posts and that's sort of like the decoration. That's literally like lipstick on a pig!" Christensen said. "But it's our pig, so we'll miss it."
For a look at the Twins 100 greatest Metrodome Moments, click here.
Minnesota Twins 2010 Schedule
To learn more about the Twins' new home, Target Field, click here
See who made the Minnesota Twins All-Metrodome team
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