(Mad Max) Beyond Metrodome

As a result of growing up at the Kingdome, I’m a big fan of domes.  Sure, I’d rather play ball at Safeco Field.  I recognize it is objectively better than every domed stadium out there.  But a domed stadium gives me a great sense of nostaglia for my long lost Kingdome.

In my book, the H.H.H. Metrodome was a first class domed baseball stadium.  As you entered Minneapolis from some-or-other direction, the Metrodome’s bubbly white roof welcomed you to the city:

1 - Welcome to Metrodomeapolis.JPGWalking in downtown Minneapolis, the Metrodome’s roof loomed large from blocks away; like an alien mothership in a movie hovering over a defenseless city below:

2 - mound of marshmellow roof.JPGWhen the Twins celebrated their final season at the Metrodome, the multipurpose venue was the inspiration for my favorite commemorative baseball:

26 - Twins at Metrodome.JPG[By the way, what's up with there being no equally beautiful (or even an ugly) 1977-1999 Kingdome commemorative baseball?]

My dad, Tim and I visited the Metrodome on the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2009.  Tim and I trudged all over that place and it was awesome.

Last November, I visited Minneapolis and enjoyed an outstanding view of the Metrodome (now displaying the name “Mall of America Field”):

3 - glorious from the air.JPG

Then on December 12, 2010, a massive snow strom resulted in the Metrodome roof collapsing and snow crashing down to the football field below:

The Twins were already relocated to Targe Field for the 2010 season, but the Vikings still called the Metrodome home at the time of the roof collapse.  The collapse took the dome out of commission for the rest of the football season.

Last week, I found myself in Minneapolis once again.  The once mighty dome was no longer visible from across town like it had been last November.  So, I decided to walk over to the dome and see what it looked like.

I found that it looks drastically different these days:

4 - deflated metrodome.jpgI walked all the way around the outside and peered through the glass doors.  The entry ways include two sets of glass doors.  Across the concourse floor, a third set of glass doors closes off the concourse from the seating area.

As my camera and I peered through the layers of glass, the view was terrible but I could clearly see the roof hanging down into the middle of the dome:

5 - peering through three glass doors.JPGThat white stuff is the roof, and you can see two orange streamers hanging from the roof.

Oddly, I could also hear music inside the dome.  I figured there must be workers in there working on the roof.  And then, all of a sudden, a shadowy figure streaked across the windows inside the concourse

What the what-what?

The shadowy figure was clearly a person…on rollerblades…skating in the field level concourse.

I was thoroughly confused.

I was about half way around the dome at this point and I decided to keep walking and see if I could find an entry point into the dome.  When I was two-thirds the way around, I found it.  One of the doors at Gate D was open, and there was a big sign on either side of the door that simply said “Rollerblade.”

I walked through the open door and through the revolving inside door.  I was now *inside* the collapsed Metrodome.  I saw a little kid down the concourse to the right playing around by what looked like a concession stand.  To the left, there was a makeshift barrier keeping me from entering the main area of the concourse and there was a table further blocking my access.  I could see a guy standing about 150 feet down the concourse to my left, far behind the table blocking my way.  He had to notice me, but he didn’t look my way at all.

I decided to squeaze past the table blocking my way and walk down to the guy.  When I reached him, there were several younger guys (20s’ish) sitting around with him.

Todd: “What’s going on here?”

Younger guy:  “Rollerdome!  Rollerblading!”

Todd:  “So anyone can rollerblade?”

Younger guy:  “Yep.”

Todd:  “Do you have rollerblades for rent?”

Younger guy:  “Yep.”

Todd:  “Well, I’m in if it will get me in to look at the dome.”

Older guy:  “It will but you can’t stop at the windows to look down into the stadium because that’s a high speed area.  You can stop on the opposite side of the concourse and look across.”

I was told Rollerdome doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m (check out their website).  I had about half-an-hour to wait.  I really just wanted to see into the dome.  So I asked if I could go look in the window into the stadium now.  The younger guy said sure.   After I peered into the first window, he asked me if I wanted to see something really cool.  Of course, I said “yes.”  Eventually, he took me all the way around the field level concourse so I could take pictures looking into the field area.

Before sharing those pictures, let’s look at a couple pictures for context:

Metrodome concessions.JPGThis is a map I got of the Metrodome concession stands when we visited the dome in 2009.  I approached the dome from Seventh Street.  Essentially, it leads right into Gate G. I then circled the dome clockwise.  The picture above looking through the windows is at Gate A.  I saw the first rollerblader through the windows at Gate C and then I entered through Gate D.

At our game in 2009, we sat in Section 100 in left field.  On our self-guided tour around the stadium, I took this picture from section 224; high above and behind home plate:


6 - Metrodome Behind Home Top.JPGI took this picture at the top of the upper deck.  Note a couple things that I have circled (from top to bottom) — (i) a huge speaker hanging directly behind home plate high above the second deck, (ii) a large American flag hanging above the second deck and the scoreboard above sections 100 and 200 in left field, and (iii) our seats in section 100 in left field.

Here is another picture from our trip in 2009:

7 - view of left field with explanatory circles.JPGAgain, this picture shows our seats and the American flag above sections 100 and 200.  The other yellow circles show the entrance ways to the seating area.  Those entrance ways lead to the field level concourse.  I took all of the following pictures (well, the following post-collapse pictures) through these field level entrance ways.

Another pre-collapse picture:

7b - view toward home pre-collapse.JPGAgain, that is the same speaker circled up top.  I’ve also circled the Twins dugout on the 3B line and more field level entrance ways to the field.  The fifth (counting from either direction) circled entrance way is section 122, just to the left of 122 is section 121.

Finally, (last pre-collapse picture for now), here is a look toward the baggy:

7c - view toward baggy pre-collapse.JPGThose circles (once again) are field level entrance ways (which were locked so you didn’t fall to the field).  The big square is a party suite or something like that.

Okay, let’s get to the present day photos.   The first photo is looking into the stadium through section 121:

8 - from collapsed section 121.JPGIn the foreground, you’ll see the “really cool” thing my guide offered to show me; the home plate area had been emptied out and it is a big pool of water.  The roof is so low that you can hardly see any of the upper deck.  Finally, note how far the big American flag has dropped; its now below the upper deck hanging just above section 100 (again, our seats from 2009 are circled).

Here is a view from section 122, more directly behind home plate:

9 - from collapsed section 122.JPGAgain, home plate is a big pool of water.  In this picture, I’ve circled the spot out in CF where a Twins pitcher tossed a baseball to Tim and me in 2009 (the commemorative baseball pictured above to be exact).  I didn’t circle it in that last picture, but just above the folded sections of seats, check out the lights hanging below the upper deck.

Here is a shot looking in through section 125:

10 - from section 125.JPGHanging down right in the middle of that picture is the speaker that is circled in the two pre-collapse pictures above.  The two orange signs way out across the field is the big party suite that I enclosed in a yellow box in the pre-collapse picture above.

Here is a shot from a little further toward 3B:

11 - 3b side post-collapse.JPGIn case you cannot tell, those cement highway dividers are connected to roof by big metal lines.  I guess the purpose is to keep the roof from blowing up and down in the wind.  Check out how low that speaker is hanging.

Even further down the 3B line (into the outfield foul territory), you can see a big circle roped off on the playing field:

12 - foul LF collapse splash zone.JPGMy guide told me that circle is where the big splash of snow came crashing down onto the field in the famous collapse video (above).  Above the circle, you can see some torn parts of the roof hanging down, along with some yellow ropes (or something).

In the LF foul corner, I took this shot looking down at the top of a speaker that used to hang high above the surface of the playing field:

13 - looking down on speaker.JPGYou cannot really tell in that last picture, but the speakers were really dusty.

Here is another picture from the LF foul corner where you can see the big party suite above the baggy (or where the baggy used to be):

14- LF foul corner post-collapse.JPGIn that last picture, check out all of the sunlight streaming through the ripped roof and lighting up the outfield seats.

More LF corner — right along the foul line, still in foul territory:

15 - LF corner.JPGIn the next picture, we are behind section 100 and you can see the big American flag hanging down above section 100, a lot of rips hanging down above the snow splash zone, some lights dangling below the upper deck, and tons of stacks of something-or-other across the field by the 1B dugout:

16 - from collapsed section 100.JPGHere we are in LCF:

17 - LCF post-collapse.JPGHere is the view from CF, in the last section before the stands stop and the RF seats are folded up behind the baggy:

18 - CF post-collapse.JPGHere is a side-by-side comparison shot looking into the same window in 2009 and 2011:

19 - RF pre-post-collapse comparison.JPGAlthough the picture to the right is zoomed in further than the picture on the left, its a good comparision to show how far down the roof is hanging.  Note that the entire upper deck is hidden behind the sagging roof in the picture to the right.  Also, check out how the lights are at the very top of the picture to the left, high above the second deck, but they are hanging below the second deck in the picture to the right.

Here’s a look in through the RF corner in foul territory…

20 - RF post-collapse.JPG…with the Twins dugout in the distance.

Here’s a close up looking into the Twins dugout with more speakers hanging down:

21 - view of Twins dugout.JPGMore of the same:

22 - from RF foul corner post-collapse.JPGThe last two pictures look out toward left field…

23 - view toward LF.JPG…and show a mess of roof rips, danglings streamers, speakers and lights, and the big American flag hanging low above section 100:

24 - more toward LF.JPGFinally, a view from above shows a much different picture than what I saw from above in November 2010:

26 - inverse dome from above.JPGI did not catch his name, but a big huge THANK YOU to the guy from Rollerdome who so kindly led me around the Metrodome.  It was a one-of-a-kind experience that I will never forget.  If you’re in Minneapolis, go check out Rollerdome.

5 Comments

OHMYGOD, this is beyond cool. I love the before-and-after pics. Wow, wow, wow. I could always determine where in the stadium you were before reading your description. Like, for example, I knew when you were in the LF corner — or in the spot previously known as the LF corner just based on the background and the position of things. This is amazing. Do you know the website reddit.com? If you were to post this there (in the sports subreddit), I bet it would get lots more views and comments. Congrats on the great experience. I’m envious but thrilled to have gotten a virtual tour on your blog.

What was the water at home plate from? The melted snow/rain?

ZACK-
Thanks, man. Yeah, it was pretty awesome. Very happy to have experienced it.

6FOUR3-
Yep. I believe home plate is full of rain/melted snow. I could see some random drops coming off the roof while I was in the dome.

What a great experience, thanks for sharing it. Loved the pictures.

TIMCBERRY-
Thanks! It was a great experience. Unforgettable.

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