Hello Sun, Goodbye Dome

Hello Sun, Goodbye Dome

As modest as a Norwegian Lutheran prairie church, the Dome is an underappreciated asset.

Roy Terwilliger, Chair, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission
William Lester, Executive Director, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission

Most of us have said our goodbyes now to the Dome, the Hump, the Baggie, the Gray Toadstool. And they were goodbyes tinged with sadness (with probably more of that to come as Minnesotans rediscover the “joys” of sitting outdoors in April and October).

We were there for the legislative battles in the late 1970s, the roof inflation ceremony on October 2, 1981 (and the unceremonious roof deflation 48 days later). We saw that first game against the Seattle Mariners on April 6, 1982 (Gary Gaetti getting two home runs). It’s hard to believe that it’s been 28 years, but time passes when you’re having fun. And what fun it has been!

The Metrodome is the only stadium in the world that has hosted an NFL Super Bowl, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, two World Series, and two Final Four rounds of the NCAA Division One Men’s Basketball Championship.

An American League attendance record was established there. So was an NCAA basketball attendance record. And an NBA attendance record—all in a place where many people have said they did not wish to view sporting events. More than 77 million spectators have somehow been lured inside the Dome, and to the best of my knowledge, they all came out well-entertained and neither rained nor snowed upon.

While the Teflon-coated Dome opened during the administration of the Teflon-coated president, it was named after one of our state’s most famous politicians, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. It was quintessentially Minnesotan that the facility wasn’t named after the highest corporate bidder. Like Minnesota itself, nobody would ever say the Dome was fancy or overbuilt. It has the clean, functional, and austere lines of a Norwegian Lutheran prairie church. If he were an architect, Garrison Keillor could have designed it.

Our Dome did not tout its presence with superfluous and expensive lighting or displays. And in keeping with this humble quality, the Dome was built on time and under budget. Many public buildings arrive to the blare of trumpets, but almost all of them come at increased taxpayer expense. No, there would be no Big Dig in Minnesota, just a functional building that would do all we ever asked it to do without boasting or costing.