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Monday, May 2, 2016

Basic Biittner : One Last Visit to the Dome

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One last time - The crowd approaches the Metrodome prior to Saturday afternoon's game. Photo by Dan Whitney
I took a trip north with family and friends last weekend. We were making our (almost) annual trip to see a major league baseball game in Minneapolis. The Twins' opponents this time out were the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are having a 'down' year, and the Twins also have not caused any sportswriters or fans to wax eloquently about the team and liken them to the '27 or '61 Yankees, or even the Twins of 1965, 1987 or 1991. So, you might think that there was nothing special about our visit to the Twin Cities ballpark this summer - nothing to look forward to at the game.

You would be wrong, though, You see, our visit to the Metrodome for the August 15 game was special, because it was our last game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Yes, the Metrodome, which has to be one of the most disparaged ballparks in Major League history. The park was once dubbed the 'Homerdome,' though it doesn't seem to be called that anymore. The ballpark still gets plenty of negative comments, though, for its noisy atmosphere and the "baggy" on the right field wall. After this season though, the Twins' 27-year residency at Metrodome will be no more, though the NFL Vikings are still tenants. The brand new baseball - only ballpark, Target Field, is scheduled to open next spring, and I, along with many others, will welcome the return of open-air baseball ("baseball as it was meant to be played," as the traditionalists say). The new field is tucked away in the warehouse section in downtown Minneapolis, and I only hope that the team owners don't come to regret their decision to reject the (much more expensive) idea to build a stadium with a retractable roof. After all, it does get pretty cold in Minnesota in March and April - sometimes even snows. Oh well. The field will acually have heaters running beneath it, so it should be thawed on Openin Day, anyway.

The only good thing I could say about the Metrodome as a major league baseball stadium was that I never had to worry about missing a game because of a rain-out or other inclement weather. Given the Twins' large fan base in Iowa and North and South Dakota, where there is no other major league baseball team in close proximity, that was a big plus for us out-of-state travelers. Though baseball tickets are still pretty reasonably priced, by the time you shell out for a couple of tickets, the gas to drive up and back, parking, and perhaps a night's lodging, that adds up to a pretty good total. Not having to see that hard-earned money wasted because of inclement weather was certainly a bonus with games scheduled at the Dome.

When we went to the game Saturday afternoon, it was humid outside, and starting to sprinkle lightly. It was comfortably air-conditioned inside, though. (okay, there were TWO good things about the Metrodome). Oh yeah - it apparently rained during the game, though we didn't realize it until we went back outside. If they had been playing outside, the game probably wouldn't have been rained out, but there might have been a rain delay. The game was fairly slow moving as it was, so we might have been there all day if that had been the scenario.

The game itself? What can I say - it was a major league baseball game, played by two teams, one of which won and one lost. Not important. Actually going to the game and soaking up the atmosphere - even if it's indoors - is the whole thing with being at the ballpark. The game itself is irrelevant. I mean, teams play (at least) 162 of them each season, right? Okay, if you must know, the Indians beat the Twins, 7-3 , and the home team didn't look very good, except for hometown superstar catcher Joe Mauer, who threw out a runner trying to steal 3rd base and also went 3 - 5 at the plate, including a meaningless 9th inning home run.

When I go to a game next year at the new park, I can at least offer comments about the weather.

By the way, if you would like to catch one last game at the Dome yourself, there are a few more home series remaining - with the Orioles (Aug. 24-26), Rangers (Aug. 28-30), White Sox (Aug. 31 - Sept. 2), Athletics (Sept. 11-13), Indians (Sept. 14-16), Tigers (Sept. 18-20), and the final weekend series (Oct. 2-4) against the Royals. And that's it.

I took a few photos of both the old and new parks, which I have included in a Photo Gallery called"Farewell to the Metrodome. For more information about Target Field, including photos of what the stadium will look like, go to www.twinsbaseball.com.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner