We’ve been running plenty of anniversary stories this season, but here’s one you won’t see trumpeted by Major League Baseball: the opening of the Metrodome 30 years ago.
When the Metrodome opened in 1982, indoor baseball was still a relative novelty: the Astros played in that futuristic amusement park called the Astrodome and the Seattle Mariners competed in the dreary Kingdome. Retractable-roof ballparks like Skydome and Safeco Field were years awqy, so the choices were to play baseball indoors or outdoors.
In Minnesota, the decision was made to play indoors, though that decision wasn’t necessarily made by the Twins: with Metropolitan Stadium crumbling and the need for a new facility, the Minnesota Vikings grabbed the opportunity to push for a new football-friendly facility with an inflatable roof, lots of suites (controlled by the Vikes, natch, even for Twins games) and an awkward baseball configuration.
Still, when the place opened in April 1982, there was a lot of optimism in the air. We were at the initial exhibition game, when Pete Rose recorded the first hit in the place as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, and while it was nice to be in a warm indoor space on a cold spring day, the Metrodome didn’t really feel like a ballpark. Maybe it was the weird lighting, maybe it was the plastic feel, maybe it was the odd smell of recirculated air…but the place never really was a true ballpark. Over the years the Twins put a lot of effort into making the Metrodome fan-friendly, but there was a limit to how much lipstick could be stuck on that pig. The opening of Target Field was a welcome relief to a generation of Twins fans unused to outdoor baseball.
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