For more than 40 shows during the past two decades, Monster Jam crews have hauled in hundreds of truckloads of dirt before the mega monster trucks roar around the Metrodome, crunching cars and shattering anything in their path.
Now, the Dome is about to face its own destruction, leaving thousands of Monster Jam fans mourning after Saturday’s last event in what has been the home for the Minnesota show the past 24 years.
But it’s not the end of the event in Minneapolis.
Organizers and Dome officials say that, after the Dome is demolished, the new stadium will still be able to keep popular events like the big truck bash going; they hope, in fact, to make Monster Jam the first event — after Vikings games — the new stadium plays host to in 2016.
“It’s a multipurpose facility,” said Jennifer Hathaway, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which operates the stadium.
“We have such a rich history here,” Monster Jam spokeswoman Kenna Conway said. “We’re looking forward to getting back here.”
Saturday’s show drew a sold-out crowd of about 60,000, with fans making the trek from across the region to watch the 16 elite trucks and freestyle motocross performances.
When the event started at the Dome in 1989, Minneapolis was one of the first indoor facilities in the country that hosted the traveling monster truck show. Now, there are shows across the nation and world, but Minnesota remains one of the largest in the Midwest. Each year, Conway said Monster Jam has one to four shows here, drawing about 50,000 people each time.
“We just have some of the most loyal fans in the area,” she added.
That’s left drivers such as Dennis Anderson, the veteran driver of Grave Digger, lamenting Saturday’s finale.
“There’s something like those old domes I love,” he said in an interview last week. “It’s almost like a circus atmosphere.”
He said he hopes Minneapolis keeps hosting the event in the new stadium because of all the dedicated Twin Cities fans, some of whom even drive to his North Carolina house to visit him.
“Back in the day when we started, it was the good ol’ guys who came to see us,” Anderson said. “Now we have all walks of people. Mom, dad and the kids, and they love us.”
There’s only been one year the Monster Jam didn’t rally in Minneapolis: 2011 — when a snowstorm collapsed the Dome’s roof a few months before the show.
Now, loyal fans will have to go to places such as Des Moines or Fargo for the two years that the new stadium will be under construction.
“I am going to miss the Metrodome,” Tom Tolve of Brooklyn Park said over the noise of Saturday’s event. “I usually come at least once a year for a monster truck rally.”
Roger Theel of Paynesville also will miss the venue. “The large floor space allows for a bigger show, faster pace, more excitement,” he said.
A lot of work goes into preparing venues for the show. Over a day and a half, 125 dump truck loads of dirt are hauled into the Dome after plywood is put down to cover the field. Crushed cars are buried along the course and everything from mobile homes to trailers are brought in, ready to be demolished.
“We can crush anything,” Conway said. “The controlled chaos of it all” draws fans to the show.
“There’s something for everybody.”