MINNEAPOLIS – With the wind chill dipping to minus 30, the day could not have been more fitting in a state that never fully warmed to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
"I'm glad it's going down," said Chuck Grimes, as he tailgated across the street. No mercy, even during on the Dome's last hurrah. "Best thing that's ever happened is this new stadium coming," Grimes said.
Others were even less kind.
"I'm not going to miss this place," shouted a man in a savage Viking mask. "This place is the trailer park of the NFL. This is the worst stadium. It's an inflatable bouncy house that collapses when it snows." He pointed to the Dome, before hurling one final jab. "That's an embarrassment."
The frozen beer in the parking lot was not this cold.
"Built on the cheap," its detractors will tell you, finished in 1982 for $55 million, only to face comparisons to billion dollar palaces - like the one that will replace it.
The puffy roof drew ridicule. The locker rooms look more division 3 college than NFL.
"It's one of the smallest," conceded Adam Groene, Vikings assistant equipment manager, as he hung uniforms in lockers for Sunday's game.
"When we go to a visiting clubhouse it might be a little bigger and stuff, but we make it home here," said Groene, defending his turf.
He's not the only one with warm feelings for the place.
"I just remember it being super shiny and looking like a new car," remembers J. Forrest, only 9-years-old when he attended with his father the inaugural Vikings game at the Metrodome. "I remember thinking this is out of this world, it felt like we were on the cutting edge."
On Sunday morning Forrest and his wife Rebekah dressed their three young children in J.'s old Ahmad Rashad and Chuck Foreman jerseys and loaded them in the car for the Vikings game – the first for the kids and the last for the Dome.
"It's like an old friend," Forrest said of the Metrodome. "You come to appreciate the quirks and you come to appreciate the things that today may seem less than desirable."
"Utilitarian" is one of the words people chose for the Dome if their being kind. Shawn Peauchane chose others. "It's just boring, it's ugly, there's no character." He wasn't done. "It works, it's functional - you can find a girl that works and is functional, doesn't mean you're going to love her," he laughed.
Peauchane carried to the Dome a pennant for the last game at Metropolitan Stadium, a generation ago. So much nostalgia still exists for the Met, but even two Twins World Series could not bring the Metrodome the Met's mystique.
Yet, despite the Metrodome's narrow concourses, its long restroom lines and assorted other shortcomings, we came.
We came for our sporting teams, truck and tractor pulls and occasional concerts - though the acoustics of the place are another matter of derision.
The roof was kind to neither musicians nor opposing players. "Thunderdome,' was one of many nicknames given to the joint, one of the few actually meant as a compliment.
"You can't just hear it, you feel it," said Russ Hodge, who traveled to the Metrodome for Sunday's finale from Monticello, Iowa. "When the crowd gets going, there's nothing like it."
Chris Salina will defend the Dome's honor too. For the past eight years he and his wife Bonnie rarely missed a Vikings game. She died of lung cancer last month. "She's here, she's definitely here," he said Sunday, wearing Bonnie's gold and purple beads and clutching her photo.
No, we did not love the Metrodome enough to keep it, but it takes a man with some history to understand why we should keep it in our hearts.
"We were so happy to get this stadium," said Fred Zamberletti, who went to work as the Vikings trainer when the team started play in 1961 and remains with the organization to this day.
He pauses for several seconds, followed by a hitch in his voice. "It'll be a long time before that new stadium has the history of this stadium," Zamberletti continued. "What we had going here at Minnesota, U.S. open, Final Fours, World Series, it's tremendous. Now we'll just have to do it again." He pause again, then he wiped away a tear.
700 Hundred police officers and security guards warned Vikings fans not to take souvenirs - but on the final day the Metrodome gave them a victory.
Deep down we always knew, it'd be a cold day when the Metrodome got its due.