MINNEAPOLIS — The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, the long-time home to the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings and University of Minnesota football, was laid to rest Sunday. It was 31 years old.
The Metrodome was born April 6, 1982, after more than two years and $55 million of construction, when the Minnesota Twins hosted the Seattle Mariners for the first-ever game played under the Teflon roof. The Dome later witnessed the introduction of indoor football in Minnesota when the Vikings beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 12, 1982.
"We’ve had a lot of great moments here. This was the ultimate stadium 32 years ago," said legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant, who led Minnesota during its transition from the great outdoors to the not-so-great indoors. "Now we’re looking forward to the ultimate stadium for the next 32 years."
During its eventful lifetime, the Metrodome also welcomed the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, who played football there from 1982 to 2008. In 1989, the Minnesota Timberwolves played their inaugural season at the Dome and drew over one million fans before moving to Target Center downtown Minneapolis.
The Metrodome is survived by Vikings greats such as Cris Carter, John Randle, Chris Doleman, Randy Moss and Adrian Peterson, and Twins greats Tom Kelly, Kent Hrbek and Joe Mauer. It’s also survived by the many memories that were made there over the last three decades. Of note were Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in 1985; the Twins’ two World Series titles in 1987 and 1991; Super Bowl XXVI in 1992; two NCAA Final Fours in 1992 and 2001; concerts by music legends such as Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones; and numerous other high school, college and professional games.
It will also be survived by many of its parts, as the blue plastic seats, pitcher’s mound and other mementos will be auctioned off. In fact, a few fans unsuccessfully attempted to leave Sunday’s game with the blue seats in their possession. Most fans, meanwhile, said their final goodbyes to the Metrodome in a calm, orderly and rather subdued fashion following the Vikings’ 14-13 victory. There were plenty of pictures taken on cell phone cameras in an attempt to encapsulate the memories of the Dome. But unlike the Metrodome’s predecessor, Metropolitan Stadium, fans did not leave Sunday’s game with pieces of the stadium in tow.
The Dome is preceded in death by its roof, which collapsed in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 2010 due to weather and heavy snowfall. The iconic white roof was modified following the 2010 collapse, which forced the Vikings to finish the season at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
On a day when superstars Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson watched from the sideline, a handful of reserves from Detroit and Minnesota helped put the final shovels of dirt on the Metrodome’s grave. Vikings rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson set a pair of team records and also scored both Minnesota touchdowns to put the finishing touches on a 14-13 victory in the last-ever game held at the Metrodome.
Following the Dome’s death at the end of the fourth quarter, several of its closest friends eulogized the Vikings’ home for the last 32 seasons. While Minnesota played the 1998 NFC Championship games here, it never hoisted a Super Bowl banner to the dingy Teflon roof of the Dome.
The Metrodome wasn’t without its quirks — the artificial turf, the congested concourses, the terrible acoustics — but the Twins and Vikings used the unusual aspects of Dome in their favor. When Minnesota’s fans would get loud, the Metrodome would become a true Dome-field advantage.
"As time went on, some people started to point out what was wrong with this building. They said there weren’t enough bathrooms, or that the concourses weren’t wide enough," said former Vikings center Matt Birk. "But you know who really hated coming here? Other teams."
The Vikings will now play their next two seasons outdoors "in the elements," as Grant said, before returning to this gravesite, where the still unnamed new stadium will be built for $975 million. In a matter of weeks, the site of Adrian Peterson’s single-game rushing record and Brett Favre’s last-second touchdown to Greg Lewis and the infamous 1998 NFC Championship game will be reduced to ashes.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will handle the final burial of the Metrodome. The building will be torn down in January by a traditional excavation process to make way for the Dome’s successor.
"Don’t cry because it’s over," said former running back Robert Smith. "Smile because it happened."