Saturday could be the last time inside the Metrodome for many of us, including myself. Allow me to wallow in some auld lyne sang.
I’ve covered most of the Iowa-Minnesota football games in the Humpty Dumpty Dome. Some were unforgettable. Others, easily forgotten.
But I’ve also covered really big-time stuff there, like the 1987 and 1991 World Series (both won by the Twins), the 1992 and 2001 Final Fours (both won by Duke), a Super Bowl, and a few NFL regular-season games that were of little consequence.
The only time in my life that I’ve had an anxiety attack (that I know of) came the Tuesday morning of that Super Bowl week, a couple hours from Media Day. It had nothing to do with Media Day or the Super Bowl, and the rest of the week went fine other than me pulling a muscle in my side from sneezing.
Super Bowls aren’t meant to be played in Minneapolis, especially when the opponents are Washington and Buffalo. I stayed in a Motel 6 in Bloomington, and Buffalo Bills fans started pouring into the place on Friday. They seemed nice. They left sad. I felt bad for them.
The World Series were wonderful. Both went to the seventh game. Both saw the home team win every game. The ’87 Series was great fun for a young me to cover because I caught all seven games, going back and forth from Minnesota to St. Louis and back. But I missed a U2 concert in Iowa City because of it, something that a younger person has a harder time accepting than a man of my current maturity and poise.
Besides, I saw U2 a few years later and wasn’t all that wowed. It was their “Zooropa” phase. Very hip. Very dull.
The ’91 World Series between the Twins and Atlanta Braves ranks as one of the best series ever, and one of the five best sporting events I’ve ever attended.
Games 6 and 7 in the Dome were two of the loudest, most exciting things I’ve ever witnessed in person. The Kirby Puckett catch and then his game-winning homer in the 11-inning Game 6, the Jack Morris 10-inning shutout in the Twins’ 1-0 Game 7 win … superb.
The Final Fours left me cold, and not just because Duke won both nine years apart. Basketball under the Teflon roof just doesn’t get it done.
Oh, I also covered an NBA game in the Metrodome between the world champion Detroit Pistons and the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves. The Pistons won, obviously, and Dennis Rodman wasn’t even in full-weirdo mode. I remember singer Sheila E., a Prince protegee, being introduced to Isiah Thomas in a Dome hallway afterward. Isiah struck me as trying to be a little too charming, but Prince’s women didn’t stray. Not back then when he ruled the world, anyhow.
That Super Bowl in the Dome was in 1993. I remember Super Bowls by halftime entertainers. That one had Gloria Estefan, which seems bizarre to this day. Gloria Estefan is Miami, not Minnesota. But she was safe.
But Minneapolis’ Prince was too out there for the NFL in 1993. He didn’t perform at a Super Bowl until 2007, when he was considered “safe.”
The Metrodome has always seemed odd. Most of the time, a few hours after Iowa-Minnesota games played in the afternoon, the field would be used for small-college games. About the only people in the stadium would be the teams, their parents, and the remaining sportswriters in the press box who were writing about a game 60,000 fans had seen instead of the 60 in the Dome stands at that moment.
To my knowledge, the sun has never shined in the Twin Cities in late November on the day of a Hawkeyes-Gophers game at the Dome. It’s always gray and raw up there. But no matter how cold it is outside, there is always a line of people waiting to get into Hubert’s bar across the street from the Dome so they can drink cold beer.
Tailgating at the Metrodome has never been adequate, unless you’re an afficionado of parking ramps.
In two years, Iowa will play Minnesota in the Gophers’ new campus stadium. It won’t be the same. It will probably be a lot better, actually.