For a year, 'the sports capital of the United States'

  • Article by: DENNIS BRACKIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 28, 2013 - 8:44 AM

The Metrodome basked in the glory of some of sports’ biggest events in 1991 and ’92.

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The Metrodome was aglow with special lighting for Super Bowl XXVI on Jan. 17, 1992, one of the few Super Bowls ever to be held in a northern state.

Photo: File by RICHARD SENNOTT • rsennott@startribune.com,

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During a 12-month period that began with the Minnesota North Stars playing in the Stanley Cup Final in May 1991, the Twin Cities was, in the words of New York Times columnist George Vecsey, “the sports capital of the United States.”

In one incredible, whirlwind 11-month period, Minnesota was host to the NHL Final, the U.S. Open golf tournament, the World Series, the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four.

The final three of those events were held in the Metrodome, which will be dismantled to make way for a new stadium. The Dome still can claim the distinction of being the only sports facility in America to have been host to a Super Bowl (1992), World Series (1987, 1991), MLB All-Star Game (1985) and the Final Four (1992, 2001).

“I knew in my gut this plastic place would become a thing of affection,” Don Poss, who headed the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission during the building of the Dome, told the Star Tribune in a 1991 interview.

The American sporting public, like many if not most Minnesotans, grudgingly gained respect for the Metrodome during that frenzied 11-month period. If it wasn’t the perfect facility for some of the events it hosted — baseball purists still maintained the game was meant to be played outdoors, and the cavernous covered stadium was too big to be a great basketball arena — the Dome garnered well-deserved praise its versatility.

And Minnesotans gained national prominence for being such gracious hosts to America’s sports fans.

Vecsey, in the last lines of his column after Duke’s victory over Michigan in the 1992 Final Four that ended the Dome’s memorable run as host arena, wrote: “Then, this morning, state marshals will round up the out-of-towners and escort us to the airport. They do not want us to disturb the fragile ecological balance of politeness and industriousness and civic-mindedness in Minneapolis. It’s been fun, but it’s over.”

Here’s a recap of the three major events that the Dome hosted between October 1991 and April 1992:

1991 World Series

Baseball fans appeared to have only tepid interest in the matchup between the Atlanta Braves and the Twins, lamenting the absence of teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers. By the time the Series ended, it was regarded as one of the greatest in history.

Atlanta, which like the Twins had become the first team to go from last place in a division the year before to the World Series, went up 3-2 after five games, which included three consecutive one-run victories by the Braves.

The best was yet to come.

The Twins staved off elimination in Game 6 in a game that will forever be remembered for Kirby Puckett’s exploits. In what is regarded as the greatest game ever played by a Twin, Puckett leapt against the fence in the third inning to rob Ron Gant of at least an extra-base hit and the Braves of at least one run. Puckett added an RBI triple, a sacrifice fly, a single, a stolen base and scored a run. Then he topped it off with an 11th-inning leadoff homer, promoting the memorable line by announcer Jack Buck: “And we’ll see you — tomorrow night.”

No less amazing was Game 7, which belonged to Jack Morris. The St. Paul native pitched 10 shutout innings, keeping the Twins alive until Gene Larkin’s fly-ball single scored Dan Gladden in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent was moved to proclaim the seven games “probably the greatest World Series ever.”

1992 Super Bowl

The NFL’s annual championship gala was considerably less dramatic than the ’91 Series. The Washington Redskins trounced Buffalo 37-24 in Super Bowl XXVI in a game that was not as close as the final score.

The Redskins, featuring an offensive line dubbed “The Hoggs,” jumped to a 24-0 lead early in the third quarter. Washington quarterback Mark Rypien was the Super Bowl MVP, completing 18 of 33 passes or 292 yards and two touchdowns.

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Los Angeles - LP: P. Maholm 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 12
San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos 9 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Manship 6
Texas - LP: N. Tepesch 1 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: J. Francis 2
Boston - LP: J. Peavy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 7
Miami - WP: J. Turner 6 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 5
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 6
Cincinnati - LP: S. LeCure 3 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: F. Rodriguez 4
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 8 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: Y. Pino 2
Kansas City - WP: B. Chen 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 2
Washington - WP: C. Stammen 7 FINAL
Colorado - LP: B. Brown 4
Detroit - LP: P. Coke 4 FINAL
Arizona - WP: E. De La Rosa 5
Houston - WP: D. Downs 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: F. Abad 2
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 4 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: M. Morin 2
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 1
Calgary 7/24/14 8:00 PM
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Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
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San Antonio 95
Atlanta 108 FINAL
Minnesota 112
Indiana 57 FINAL
Chicago 60
Phoenix 89 FINAL
Seattle 71
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