Brad Causey
Brad Causey,
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Doug Helton
Montana
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Virginia
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Tennessee
David R. Wehry
Tennessee
Brian Bordwine
Tennesee
James E. Foy
Oklahoma
The Freedom Letter
v2n6
The Metrodome / Twin Cities
6/16/2003
As the summer begins, so does the annual baseball/stadium tour. This years first stop is a Minnesota Twins game at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Just prior to the All-Star game, MLB has recently been engaged in interleague play. For non-sports fans, interleague play is an opportunity for teams in different Leagues (American and National) to play teams they normally would never see. Until about 5 years ago, American and National teams never played each other except for the World Series.
Friday night, June 13th, the Twins entertained the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks. All the runs were scored in the 5th inning. The home team eventually prevailed by a score of 3-1. No home runs, only one error of note, (they did not count it as one) and, obviously, limited offense.
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome opened in 1984. The parking situation is good. There is a limited amount of reserved space right next to the stadium. If you don't have a pass, you can find reasonably priced parking within a block or two, and walk over. It is a multi-purpose facility. It is the home stadium of the Minnesota Twins, (MLB) The Minnesota Vikings, (NFL) and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team. (NCAA) Any indoor arena can be used for a variety of other events such as rodeos, concerts, crusades, political conventions, etc. It is essentially a football stadium with provisions for baseball and other. It has two decks of seating. The luxury boxes are accessed from the concourse on the lower level. It has two "press" areas. One is on the suite (lower) level approximately between the 40 yard lines. The other is on the same level, in the left corner, which on an oval race track would be turn 3. The corner box is for baseball, the center one is mainly for football. The roof is a fabric/rubber bubble which is supported by air pressure. For baseball purposes, home plate is the middle of turn 3, right in front of the corner press box. Left field has a permanent wall, which would be the far end zone during a football game. Since a football field is only a 160 feet wide, this presents a potential problem if one values a normal size right field. The designers of the Metrodome came up with a unique solution. The lower level seats under the football press area retract to be flush with the upper deck from end zone to end zone. The foul poles are actually fabric banners which are hung to mimic the real thing. With the seats rolled back, in baseball configuration, the dimensions are impressive. Center field, 408 feet, deep left, 343, and deep right is 327. From just left of deep center to the right foul pole, a curtain hangs in the upper deck which looks good and covers about 4000 seats. The football capacity is about 68,000. The baseball capacity is around 45,000. Also, being indoors,I heard no complaints about the humidity, the heat, or a possible rain delay!
The field is Astroturf with five cut-outs for home plate, the three bases, and the mound. The warning track is actually carpet, stained a brown primer color. Each team is given a bull pen adjacent their dugout with an artificial mound. The dugouts themselves are in their correct spots and are covered with a curtain during other events. The fence behind homeplate is simply a net hung between the field and the lower portion of the upper deck. The Jumbotrons are on opposite ends of the stadium above the upper deck. In baseball configuration one is above the 1st base line, the other in deep left field. For football they are above the end zones. The public address system is hard to hear, but the roar of the fans is not. The current turf is in poor condition. Worn out is more accurate. One can see the seams and gaps from the seating area. Just outside the "dirt" areas,you can see the color it used to be, a much darker shade of green. I am glad I do not have to run a post pattern in the red zone. Looks like a great way to be on injured reserve.
The public areas of the stadium are well maintained. The bathrooms are well placed, clean and efficient. There is no sit-down restaurant, but ample cuisine is available from the various permanent vendors on both levels. I sampled the local bratwurst, and the obligatory hot dog. A bag of peanuts and a couple of beers completed the menu. The hot dog was pretty good, the beer acceptable, but the bratwurst left something to be desired. The meat itself was fine, but the bun was stale, and as a result,it fell apart during the first bite. After that it was a war between my dexterity and the wax paper on my lap. Fortunately, the wax paper did its job in absorbing most of the toppings.
When I subtract 2003 from 1984, I get 19. Years, that is. It what may set a new low in owner whining, both professional owners are complaining that the Metrodome is inadequate. In less than 20 years? Come on guys, let's get real. The Metrodome was built with a combination of city and state (read taxpayer) money. It is maintained by the city. In a brash show of arrogance, the owner of the Vikings is threatening to move the team to San Antonio or Los Angeles if he doesn't get a new, football only, stadium. If so, would the Twins be satisfied to have it all to themselves? Apparently not. The owner of the Twins has thought about eliminating the team completely. He made a deal with the commissioner a couple of years ago to sell the team back to the league, which would then abolish it. An odd strategy for former World Champions. One can only assume the Golden Gophers complaint must relate to having to board buses for the ride from campus!
From the above specifics one could actually make a case that the Twins could do better. The stadium is obviously a compromise from its football intentions. If it is really that bad, how about the Twins pay for a new stadium of their own? It is a private business, after all. It can be built however and wherever they like. That would leave the Metrodome to the Vikings and the Gophers. If it is too sterile, then get rid of the bubble and plant some real grass. If sub-zero temperatures are good enough for the Packers, then they should be just fine for the Vikings. (Note: For the first thirty years of their existence they did play outdoors in the old municipal stadium. During that time they appeared in four Super Bowls. Maybe it wasn't all bad.) The additional cost to the taxpayers of the above plan? Zero. A solution which is an improvement for everybody but costs nothing? Gosh, what an original idea.
Special thanks to Johnny, Tammy and Tabitha, Bill and Joyce, Steve, Carrie, Noah, Josh and Zach, Dave and Connie. All hail Captain Underpants!!!
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