Monday, February 24, 2014

Saying Goodbye to the Dome

It's weird to feel nostalgia at the demolition of a building. I mean, it's not like the building and I were ever friends, nor can I say I spent particularly that much time there, relatively speaking. But seeing this video of the Dome collapsing (insert Vikings joke here) made me feel all sorts of complex emotions:

No word on whether Gary Anderson personally detonated the collapse

To dispense with the obvious: the dome was a terrible venue. Spartan barely begins to describe it, watching a baseball game often required contorting yourself into all sorts of odd positions since the seats were designed to watch a football field, not baseball. It was cramped, the concessions sucked, and it was pretty much an eye sore.

But it was a lovable eyesore. In fact, I'd argue there are few things more quintesentially Minnesotan -- sure, it was an eyesore designed far more for practicality than any thought of comfort or aesthetics, but that describes most of Minnesota.

It was also a building that was almost Soviet, in both appearance and function. Who needs fancy architecture when we can just build a big oval out of cinder block? Not to mention it has to be by far the most adaptable, multi-use stadium ever used in professional sports. At one point in time, it housed a mind-boggling three (!) separate professional franchises, as well as multiple college teams, something probably only achievable in a place like Minnesota that places much more of a premium on function over form (and something which will never happen again).

It also housed some spectacular moments. The '91 World Series (arguably the greatest series of all time, inarguably one of the top 5), the soul-crushing 98 NFC championship, the return of pro basketball to Minnesota. It also retains the title as the only building to house the World Series, Super Bowl, and NCAA Final Four in one year.

But for me, as I imagine most people who have any memory of the place, it's less about those moments than about the million small moments that bring people to love sports in the first place. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, heading to Minneapolis to see the Twins was always a highlight of summer. Coming up the highway and seeing the giant multicolored apartment complexes across the street, wandering through Dome Plus souvenirs and free baseball museum, being part of thousands of people attempting to blow the roof off of the homer dome…these are the kinds of things that will stick with me pretty much forever.

Things progress as they always do, and now that the Vikings have their official exodus planned, all teams that once called the Dome home now officially have shiny new stadiums (or at least a new stadium in the works) and the Dome should be completely gone by the time summer rolls around. And sure, all of these new stadiums are significantly better by pretty much every objective measure, but I hardly think I'm alone in feeling a twinge of sadness at seeing the giant grey bowl with its teflon roof and garbage bag for a right field fence finally crumbling into nothingness...

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