Herald Journal Columns
April 17, 2006, Herald Journal / Enterprise Dispatch

Bring on the new stadium, but don’t forget the ‘Dome

By Matt Kane

All the recent talk of stadium proposals has left me wondering, what about the ‘Dome.

I question, do the Gophers, Twins, and Vikings really need a new stadium or is it just the vogue thing to do?

When I was a young teenager, I had a life plan in mind. I wanted to become a Major League Baseball broadcaster, which would give me the prime opportunity to reach one of my biggest goals — to attend a major league game at every major league stadium.

When I was 13, in 1990, there were 26 teams in Major League Baseball and an equal number of stadiums. By that time I had been to the Metrodome and Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, leaving 24 more parks for me to visit.

But now, 16 years later, there are 30 teams in the league and, through last season, I had been to 14 different major league ballparks.

Fourteen isn’t bad, it’s almost halfway if you look at the number. But, unfortunately for my life goal, I cannot look at the number itself, for it keeps shrinking.

Of the 14 stadiums I have seen a major league game in, four — Three Rivers Stadium, County Stadium, Tiger Stadium, and Busch Stadium — are now parking lots.

Now, I have to make return trips to Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Detroit, and St. Louis just to catch up to where I once was.

So, out of the 30 current stadiums, I have been to 10. Although, the New Comiskey Park has since been remodeled and renamed to U.S. Cellular Field, so make that nine. And if the Twins get a new stadium approved and then build, make it eight.
Since 1989, when the Toronto Blue Jays opened the SkyDome — now Rogers Centre — 21 teams have located to new or relocated to different ballparks.

Seventeen of the moves were to newly constructed facilities, including three for expansion teams — Coors Field (Colorado Rockies), Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Devil Rays) — and two teams moved into already existing stadiums.

The fourth expansion park, Dolphins Stadium (Florida Marlins), was already being used by the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, and the Washington Nationals swapped parks in its move from Olympic Stadium in Montreal to RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. Like Dolphins Stadium, RFK was already around and being used for NFL football.

That means all of nine teams are still playing in the same stadium they were in 1988. Four of those parks — Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers), Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City Royals), Angel Stadium (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), and McAfee Coliseum (Oakland A’s) — have been completely renovated, and three — Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Fenway Park — are considered shrines to even an average baseball fan and will never change.

That leaves Shea Stadium, the home of the Mets, and the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome as the two parks that, for the most part, resemble what they were two decades ago. But the Mets are already constructing a $500 million-plus stadium to be opened in 2009, so that leaves the Metrodome and the Twins.

It seems the Twins are progressing better this year than they had in the past decade of promoting a new ballpark, so, if they get the deal approved, the burden of attending a Twins game in a new stadium, I am more than willing to bear.

After seeing games at Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium and, most impressive in my mind, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, seeing the Twins play in a combination of the three would be a site for Astroturf-burned sore eyes.

But I will miss the Metrodome if the Twins do, indeed, leave. Really, since I can’t remember attending games at Metropolitan Stadium as the photos indicate, Metrodome memories are all that I have. And I will declare, those memories have been great.

Since the first game was played at the ‘Dome in 1982, the stadium has hosted two World Series celebrations, three different 3,000 hits (Dave Winfield, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken), an all-star game (1985) and Homer Hankies.

It’s funny how the Metrodome was the place to be in baseball during the 1987 and 1991 playoffs, what with its jumbo jet-decible crowd noise.

But I guess like the decade it was built in, it must ultimately come to an end. As went the way of the parachute pants so too must go the right field baggy.

Seeing the sketched proposal for the new stadium in downtown Minneapolis, it looks like the planners are on to something. With the skyline in plain site beyond center field, the setting is similar to PNC Park in Pittsburgh, a stadium, friends from the ‘Burgh describe as “awesome.”

I don’t often hear that same term used today when people describe the Metrodome. But a new stadium would certainly be “awesome.”

So get it built, Minnesota. But, if it does get completed, don’t forget there was once “no place like Dome.”

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