Virtual Voices
Vikings fans leave the Metrodome for the final time Dec. 29.
Associated Press/Photo by Jim Mone
Vikings fans leave the Metrodome for the final time Dec. 29.

It’s time to put the old dog down

Sports

When I was 23 my family put our dog Sable to sleep. She was nearly 14 years old, deaf, and could barely walk anymore. I was living away from home at the time, but I cried when I got the news. A last vestige of my childhood was gone. She was a nearly perfect dog, the best. But it was time.

Most of that childhood was lived in Minneapolis, largely in the shadow of a Teflon bubble, and tomorrow it too will disappear. With plans in place to build a new billion-dollar stadium, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome’s iconic roof will be deflated and demolition will begin.

The dome was under construction the year my family moved into the neighborhood (1980), and it quickly became a significant part of the Minneapolis skyline of my childhood. But it was one of the worst stadiums in the country. The sightlines in the upper deck were horrid, especially for baseball, which make sense since it was a football stadium with baseball wedged into it. It always smelled funny. The urinals were troughs (although that was a selling point to little boys). If the crowd wasn’t into the game it felt like a deserted hospital. The turf was like Brillo pads on concrete, and the whole place was plain ugly. It was a dump, but it was our dump. The Metrodome offered the most incredible home field advantage in sports. Homer hankies, Viking hunting horns, and decibel levels surpassing a jet’s takeoff made it a dreadful place for opponents.

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I saw three pro teams play there: Vikings, Twins, and Timberwolves. It hosted two World Series championships (1987 and 1991), and more than a few heart-wrenching losses. Legends like the Twins’ Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, and Johan Santana, and the Vikings’ Cris Carter, Randall McDaniel, and Randy Moss graced its field. The music of the dome was Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” the Hormel Hot Dog ditty, and the Twins’ endearing but hokey fight song: “We’re gonna win Twins / We’re gonna score. / We’re gonna win Twins / Watch that baseball soar!”

I attended a monster truck rally and a Billy Graham crusade at the Metrodome. I watched Eden Prairie and a Joe Mauer-led Cretin-Derham Hall win high school state titles in football, and I despised them out of sheer jealousy.

The air pressure from the inflated roof turned exits into cyclones that flushed fans right out the door. The Piper family could hear the roar of the crowd from our front yard five blocks away and over 18 lanes of interstate traffic. I raced laps around the dome on my bike, going up and down the entrance and exit ramps. The dome was my playground, my home away from home, a house of full memories.

But no more. Tomorrow it goes under. It is sad, but it is time. The H.H.H. Metrodome was a good friend, always there for me, always stable, always a little bit gross. But its days are behind it now. It’s time to put the old dog down. It will be fondly missed. But no tears this time.

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