On October 11th, 2009, the last MLB game was played under the roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 to sweep the ALDS three games to none. This, however, was not the last baseball game played at the Metrodome. In fact, the last Metrodome baseball game is yet to played.
Although the Twins’ new stadium, Target Field, became the team’s home in 2010, the Metrodome remains home to college baseball. Since the Twins’ 2009 season, hundreds of college baseball games (DI, II, III, NAIA, & JUCO) continue to be played at the Dome. Why? Because the weather in the northern Midwest in February, much of March, and sometimes April, is cold, wet, and snowy.
Specifically, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers have relied on the Metrodome for the first half of their home season for quite some time. Similarly,
Division II, III, NAIA, and JUCO teams from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, and Wisconsin, have depended on the dome for nonconference games. In fact, some Minnesota DII teams have played as many as eighteen games in the Metrodome in a given season.
So why make a fuss about the dome? Because come February of 2014, the Metrodome will be demolished in order to make room for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. In other words, this season is the last of college baseball in the Metrodome.
For many college baseball players – and Minnesotans – February 2014 can’t come soon enough. Complaints about the Dome are easy to come by. For one, it feels like you’re playing in an airplane hangar, with over 50,000 empty seats. Also, a weekend of games on the turf surface often takes its toll on some redshirt seniors (imagine how 81 games would have felt). What’s forgotten about the Metrodome is what it has provided.
First, its saved thousands of dollars in travel expenses for many collegiate athletic programs. For example, many Midwestern teams have saved up for one big trip south which they schedule around a handful of games at the Metrodome. Second, and perhaps most importantly, the Dome has allowed Northern collegiate teams to play games as early as southern teams. While most agree that southern programs have an advantage on the national stage because they can play outside 365 days a year, it’s facilities like the Metrodome that have helped closed that gap.
In retrospect, I plead this: for all you coaches, players, and fans that will be taking part in a college baseball game at the Metrodome this spring, pay your respects. It might be dimly lit, have water seeping through the floor of the dugouts, and concrete surrounding homeplate, but its given us a place to play baseball.