In August 1982, the Gophers had a media day at the Metrodome. Coach Joe Salem looked around the big blue room in admiration and said, “This is going to be the Taj Mahal of college football.”
Not so much, Smoky Joe.
There was an injury issue with the earliest turf in the Dome. It was a thin layer with bad seams. Infamously, Billy Sims, the great Detroit Lions running back, got his right leg stuck on the turf making a cut on Oct. 21, 1984, blew out his knee and never played again.
The main complaint of Vikings opponents was booming music and pumped-in crowd noise. In 1987, the Chicago Bears were getting ready for a game in Minneapolis and coach Mike Ditka referred to the location as the “Rollerdome.”
Remarkable Mike Lynn, the CEO and general manager of the Vikings, sent Ditka a pair of roller skates, which Iron Mike was seen using that week as he moved around Halas Hall.
The Vikings fielded 16 playoff teams in their 32 seasons in the Metrodome. They were 6-4 in home playoff games, and the last was the best, a 34-3 smashing of the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 17, 2010.
The only time the Vikings played twice at home in the same postseason was after the landslide of offense during the 15-1 run through the 1998 schedule.
The Arizona Cardinals were dismissed 41-21 in the division round, and on Jan. 17, 1999, the Atlanta Falcons were in town for the only NFC Championship Game to be played in the Metrodome and … ah, you know the rest.
The Gophers bailed on indoor football to return to campus in 2009, and the Twins moved into their magnificent Target Field in 2010. It was that winter when the Metrodome gained its YouTube legacy: the roof collapse caught by an inside camera.
A Super Bowl. A couple of Final Fours and World Series. An NBA season with record-breaking attendance. Painfully loud monster trucks and the pings from the bats of small-college ballplayers at 3 in the morning. Heartbreak (Pat Summerall: “Gary Anderson … 39 yards away, and it’s not good”) and triumph (Jack Buck: “And, we’ll see you … tomorrow night”).
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, opened in 1982, for an original cost of $55 million.
The insults were so frequent that the offended Dome staff for years had the slogan “We Like It Here” painted above the tunnel in the right field corner.
The more fitting epitaph for the Metrodome’s gravestone would be, “We Got Our Money’s Worth.”