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“It was like someone was telling you you have ugly children,” said Lester, who admits that the criticism got to him.
But over time, he said, he realized the stadium’s looks didn’t matter.
“The magic was not the bricks and mortar,” he said. “The magic was the celebrations and the joys and the people coming together to watch people they cared about and create these terrific memories.”
Time, however, wasn’t kind.
As retro-looking ballparks on scenic waterfronts and spectacular NFL venues with retractable-roofs and first-class boxes became the norm, the faded Teflon-roofed stadium in Minneapolis seemed worn and weary.
When the Gophers and Twins pulled out for new digs a few years back, it seemed inevitable that the Vikings would soon follow — either to a new stadium in the suburbs or for one in L.A.
When the roof collapsed during a December 2010 snowstorm, the Vikings were forced to play their final home game a few miles away at TCF Bank Stadium. A new roof went up the following summer, but by then, the end seemed near.
Indeed, Thursday’s announcement was something of a formality.
The stadium authority and Vikings had said for weeks that the team would probably play two seasons, rather than one, at the University of Minnesota before the new stadium opens in 2016.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the stadium authority, said the final decision was made to simplify construction in a downtown neighborhood where space is already tight.
How the Dome goes, however, has yet to be determined.
It could be with a bang — explosives — or, more likely, piece by piece.
Either way, fans and the curious have another year to say goodbye.
“I’m sure I’ll be there when they tear it down to shed a tear,” Hrbek said Thursday. “I know I’m going to miss it. It was magical.”
Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425