Sunday officially marks the beginning of the end of an era.
The Metrodome has meant many things to many people. Aesthetically, it has all the charm of a punch to face from a stranger. Be honest. It's a dump. But the noise contained under that roof (which some claim originally contained Nazi iconography) has caused plenty of hearing loss.
Tomorrow's game with the Browns will begin the countdown from seven to the end of the ugly cousin of a stadium that the Metrodome was, is and always will be. Just as Twins fans were gob-smacked when they saw what a baseball stadium is supposed to look like – the Metrodome was a football-first sight-line facility and Met Stadium was a Lego set of bleachers built around a world-class parking lot – Vikings fans are going to get that same experience in three years.
The farewell tour of the Metrodome should be akin to the farewell tour of Spinal Tap. At some point, there should be a marquee that says, "Puppet Show and Football Game." Built on the cheap, it was the best stadium a shoestring budget could buy. The only thing memorable about the Metrodome has been what happened on its floor – and on one December morning, what happened to its roof. The events that have taken place at the foundation of the stadium have made the facility something memorable.
It played host to NCAA championships. The Washington Redskins remember it fondly as the place where they won one of their Super Bowl titles. Back when the over-under on Twins losses was less than 91½, the Metrodome played the role of baseball's 10th man. In their two World Series-winning seasons, the Twins went 8-0 in the Dome and 0-6 on the road. Not too shabby.
But, at its core, the Metrodome will be remembered as the place where the Vikings publicly conducted their love affair with their fans. The moments echo through the corridors of time – both good and bad.
Tony Dorsett's 99-yard touchdown run.
Beating Joe Montana in the 1985 opener.
Mike Ditka on roller skates.
Vikings and Packers scabs playing in front of 13,911 disinterested fans in 1987.
Bob Schnelker on the Jumbotron.
Herschel losing a shoe.
Warren Moon's 65-yard pitch and catch to Cris Carter in overtime vs. the Bears in '94.
Randy in '98.
Hanging 50 points on Jacksonville.
Gary Anderson's first miss of the year.
The beatdown of the Saints in 2000 when a playoff game was at the source of the Mississippi, not the big "Who Dat?" mouth.
Fans wearing captain's hats after the Love Boat scandal.
Brett Favre getting benched to stop the green and gold bleeding.
Fans dressing like Chilly – complete with headset and play chart held over the mouth.
Adrian Peterson setting the all-time single-game rushing record in 2007 … and, as a rookie, cementing his spot as the elite running back in the league.
Greg Lewis ushering in the Brett Favre era in style.
The roof, the roof, the roof ain't on fire … but it is coming down.
Beating down the Packers to earn their way into the 2012 playoffs.
Those are just a sampling of the thousands of memories that have taken place under the Teflon-encased landfill that is the Metrodome. The building has seen it all – moments that fans remember with more clarity than they do their own family milestones.
As members of the hearing-challenged media types that have covered the Vikings in the Metrodome, the only thing those of us in the Viking Update family – from "Benchwarmer" Bob Lurtsema to "Touchdown" Tony Parker to the next generation of wags and reprobates – will miss is the unprecedented view of the action. As the relationship between the NFL and the media that covers it has become more adversarial – and finding every dollar from fans – new stadium construction has made sure that the media is positioned in the nosebleeds. At the Metrodome, what would be the high-end luxury boxes are filled by the non-paying cabal of Vikings character assassins. A legacy dies when the building closes in that regard.
When the Metrodome comes down after this season, there won't be a lot of tears shed. It will never be compared to Lambeau Field or Fenway Park. The facility that will replace it will put it to shame. The new facility will be the "trophy wife" of stadiums. But the memories that have been contained within that building will be remembered in the same way that family Christmases, epic anniversaries and reunions are fondly recalled. Few talk of the "good old days" when they went to the Metrodome, but, as we start the final season of playing games there, it was a facility that witnessed history and provided memories that will last a lifetime.
Love it. Hate it. The Dome gave the Vikings a home-field advantage like few other stadiums have. There won't be another stadium like it again – because nobody could get away with building a dump like that now. But it will be missed when it goes away. Enjoy it now, Vikings fans. Get your earplugs ready and hit the lights.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Holler: Countdown starts to Dome's last days
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