Metrodome remembered on 10th anniversary of last game

The Minnesota Vikings put the finishing touches on the Metrodome exactly 10 years ago Dec. 29, 2013, by beating the Detroit Lions.

The Dome stood in downtown Minneapolis for more than 30 years, hosting the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat for three pro teams and the Gophers.

On-time and under budget at $68 million, the Metrodome opened with a Twins game in April 1982. By that summer, fans noticed a bit of a flaw in construction.

"I realized it was awfully warm," said Shakopee resident Dave Maki, who attended a late June game in 1982. "And that was the first year. They didn't have air conditioning."

A little extra heat wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for Wally the Beer Man, who was there for the first and last days of the Dome, broadcasting his classic sales pitch.

"Hey, ice cold beer here," he always shouted.

"Wally was a staple," said Paul Sampson of La Crosse, Wisconsin. "He's a Minnesota treasure."

With Wally’s help, fans turned the Dome into one of the biggest home-field advantages in all of sports. The Twins needed every home Dome game to win the 1987 World Series.

"It was so loud," Maki said. "It was like a 747 in the place. If you just see, I'd never been in such an atmosphere before."

And they did it again in 1991.

The Metrodome was actually built as a football stadium and the Vikings moved in each season after the boys of summer left. The Timberwolves played their inaugural season there in 1989, losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls in their first game.

Three weeks later, the Dome gave shelter to The Rolling Stones for the first of three tours to play under the roof. The Super Bowl came in 1992. The Final Four in 1992 and 2001. 

The Golden Gophers also called it home from 1982 to 2008. They lost 55-0 to Iowa in their last game and students couldn’t wait to leave the Dome behind.

"Are you sad to see the stadium go?" FOX 9's Paul Blume asked one of them.

"Hell no," the student replied.

By that time, the roof had collapsed four times — usually under the weight of snow.

"I was there, the one when the snow came in," said Walter McNeil AKA Wally the Beer Man.

Wally and everyone else made it out O.K. after the fifth collapse in December 2010, but the dome’s days were numbered.

The Twins had left a year earlier and the Vikings closed the doors behind them in December 2013, thanking fans for the memories by beating the Lions.

The seats made it out and were sold, landing across the country, including at the baseball stadium in Shakopee. And then, the stadium went out with a bang. Thirty-one years of memories exploded, while Wally and most of the players rushed straight ahead to the future.

"It was more or less 'this is over with, now we get to a new place. This is going to bring more people in,'" Wally said.

They built U.S. Bank Stadium on the spot where the Dome used to be at a cost of more than $1 billion. But the Dome is still the only venue to host an MLB All-Star game, a World Series, a Super Bowl, and an NCAA Final Four.


Vikings: Marking 13 years since the Metrodome roof collapse

This week marked the 13-year anniversary of one of the more iconic moments in what was a miserable season in 2010 for the Minnesota Vikings.