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Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington

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Black and white photograph of The All-Star game at Metropolitan Stadium, 1965. Photograph: Gerald R. Brimacombe, Minneapolis Star & Tribune.

The All-Star game at Metropolitan Stadium, 1965. Photograph: Gerald R. Brimacombe, Minneapolis Star & Tribune.

When local enthusiasts wanted to lure major league sports to Minnesota in the 1950s, they made plans to build an outdoor stadium in the cornfields of Bloomington. Metropolitan Stadium—"the Met"—hosted Minnesota's professional baseball, football, and soccer teams until the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome replaced it in 1981.

Minnesotans had enjoyed baseball since the mid-1800s. Minneapolis and St. Paul, natural rivals, each had American Association minor league teams that played at Nicollet Park and Lexington Park, respectively. Built in the 1890s, neither park met the standards for major league baseball.

Talk of a new stadium started in 1952. The next year, the state legislature approved the creation of Metropolitan Sports Area Commission (MSAC) to govern operations of the new stadium. A group called the "Minneapolis Minute Men" spearheaded a campaign to raise funds through bond sales. Aided by an investment house and Minneapolis businessmen, the fundraising campaign reached its $4.5 million goal in May 1955. A Major League Baseball committee appointed by the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce purchased 164 acres of farmland in Bloomington for $478,899. Dignitaries broke ground on June 20 for the new stadium.

Building the Met took less than a year, despite extreme winter weather and damage from two fires. The finished stadium could hold 30,000 people and had parking for 15,000 cars. Designed by the architectural and engineering firm of Thorshov & Cerny, Inc., the unique cantilevered construction offered fans a clear view of the field from every seat. The total cost came to $8.5 million, at no expense to taxpayers.

On opening day, April 24, 1956, 18,366 people watched the Minneapolis Millers take on the Wichita Braves. The Millers lost 5–3.

Major League baseball expansion in 1960 strengthened interest in bringing a major league team to Minnesota. The Washington Senators, owned by Calvin Griffith, moved to the state to become the Minnesota Twins. At the team's request, stadium capacity increased to 40,000 seats for the inaugural season. On April 21, 1961, with 24,606 fans in the stands, the Twins played the new Washington Senators in the first American League game at the Met. The Twins lost 5–3.

The Minnesota Vikings football team arrived in the fall of 1961. The Vikings played their first regular season home game on September 17, 1961, to a crowd of 32,236, beating the Chicago Bears 37–13. Removable bleacher seating for football games added in the mid-1960s increased the stadium's capacity to accommodate the team's growing following.

On July 13, 1965, the Met hosted baseball's All-Star Game. The American League team featured Twins players Earl Battey, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Jimmie Hall, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, and Zoilo Versalles. More stadium highlights occurred when the Twins won the 1965 American League pennant and played in their first World Series, losing 2–0 on their home field to the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven.

The 1970s brought a new professional sport to the stadium. The Minnesota Kicks soccer team drew an estimated 20,000 fans to watch their first home game against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 9, 1976. The Kicks won 4–1.

The enthusiasm of Minnesotans for events inside the Met fueled the growing popularity of tailgating outside the stadium. In all weather, hardy fans packed a lunch, loaded up their barbecue grills, and joined the tradition of the pre-game parking lot party.

Metropolitan Stadium broadened its scope in the 1960s when it began to host music concerts. The Beatles played there on August 21, 1965, to 30,000 fans. A concert featuring the Eagles, Pablo Cruise, and the Steve Miller Band drew a stadium record crowd of more than 65,000 on August 1, 1978. The Met hosted Ella Fitzgerald, Arthur Fiedler, Andy Williams, the Beach Boys, and many others.

By the late 1970s, the sports teams were no longer happy playing in an aging outdoor facility and made plans for an indoor stadium, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Twins played their final game at the Met on September 30, 1981. Following the final Vikings game on December 20, fans ravaged the stadium, taking everything from seats to pieces of the goal posts as souvenirs. Wrecking crews demolished the stadium on January 28, 1985, to make way for the Mall of America.

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ESPN. 1965 MLB All-Star Game.
http://www.espn.com/mlb/allstargame/history/results/_/year/1965

I.442
Erickson, Gordon A. St. Paul, Minneapolis and Bloomington Aerial Photograph Collection [graphic], ca. 1958–1966
Photograph Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
http://search.mnhs.org/index.php?q=%22st.+paul,+minneapolis+and+bloomington+aerial+photograph+collection%22&brand=cms
Description: Aerial views of urban and suburban areas in the Twin Cities and surrounding metropolitan area including views of Metropolitan Stadium, Fort Snelling, Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Mississippi River, and Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun).

Twinsbaseball.com Timeline.
http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/min/history/timeline.jsp

The Met. [Minnesota: n.p., 1981?].

Metropolitan Sports Area Stadium: Stadium Souvenir. [Minnesota: Metropolitan Sports Commission], 1956.

[Metropolitan Stadium]. Minneapolis: WCCO Radio and Television, 1956.

Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. 10, a Decade at the Met; Metropolitan Stadium, Home of the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, [1966].

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library. Resources on Minnesota issues: Baseball Stadiums.
https://www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/issues/issues?issue=baseball

Minnesota Vikings. History Timeline.
http://www.vikings.com/team/history/timeline.html

Remember When. . .: Metropolitan Stadium, 1956–1981. [MN]: Matt Blair's Celebrity Promotions, 1992.

Society for American Baseball Research. Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, 1956.
http://sabr.org/content/metropolitan-stadium-bloomington-1956

Soucheray, Joe. Once There Was a Ballpark: The Seasons of the Met, 1956–1981. Edina, MN: Dorn Books, 1981.

Thornley, Stew. Baseball in Minnesota: the Definitive History. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006.

——— . "Metropolitan Stadium (MN)." Society for American Baseball Research.
http://sabr.org/bioproj/park/d3635696

Welter, Ben. "Dec. 21, 1981: Met Stadium's Violent Goodbye." Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 27, 2013.
http://www.startribune.com/dec-21-1981-met-stadium-s-violent-goodbye/237253121/

Related Images

Black and white photograph of The All-Star game at Metropolitan Stadium, 1965. Photograph: Gerald R. Brimacombe, Minneapolis Star & Tribune.
Black and white photograph of The All-Star game at Metropolitan Stadium, 1965. Photograph: Gerald R. Brimacombe, Minneapolis Star & Tribune.
Black and white photograph of the Minneapolis Millers versus the Wichita Braves at Metropolitan Stadium, April 24, 1956.
Black and white photograph of the Minneapolis Millers versus the Wichita Braves at Metropolitan Stadium, April 24, 1956.
Black and white photograph of Tailgaters, Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota. Photographer: Gillis, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1964.
Black and white photograph of Tailgaters, Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota. Photographer: Gillis, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1964.
Black and white photograph of Metropolitan Stadium under construction. Photograph: Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune, 1955.
Black and white photograph of Metropolitan Stadium under construction. Photograph: Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune, 1955.
Black and white photograph of the last game at Metropolitan Stadium, Vikings versus Kansas City Chiefs, 1981.
Black and white photograph of the last game at Metropolitan Stadium, Vikings versus Kansas City Chiefs, 1981.
Black and white photograph of Metropolitan Stadium aerial, Bloomington, 1960. Photograph: Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune.
Black and white photograph of Metropolitan Stadium aerial, Bloomington, 1960. Photograph: Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune.
Black and white photograph of The Beatles in concert at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, August 21, 1965. Photograph: Neale, St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press.
Black and white photograph of The Beatles in concert at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, August 21, 1965. Photograph: Neale, St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press.
Black and white photograph of Fans at the Beatles concert, Metropolitan Stadium, 8/21/1965. Photograph: Sully, St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press.
Black and white photograph of Fans at the Beatles concert, Metropolitan Stadium, 8/21/1965. Photograph: Sully, St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press.
Black and white photograph of Viking fans strip the scoreboard after the Vikings lose to Kansas City in the last game played at Met Stadium, 1981. Photograph: John Doman, St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press.
Black and white photograph of Viking fans strip the scoreboard after the Vikings lose to Kansas City in the last game played at Met Stadium, 1981. Photograph: John Doman, St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press.
Black and white photograph of tailgaters at Minnesota Vikings vs. Los Angeles Rams, National Football Conference title game, Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, 1974. Photograph: Spence, Minneapolis Star & Tribune.
Black and white photograph of tailgaters at Minnesota Vikings vs. Los Angeles Rams, National Football Conference title game, Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, 1974. Photograph: Spence, Minneapolis Star & Tribune.
Black and white photograph of Paul Flatley catching a pass, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions football game at Metropolitan Stadium Bloomington, 1963.
Black and white photograph of Paul Flatley catching a pass, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions football game at Metropolitan Stadium Bloomington, 1963.
Black and white photograph of a Minnesota Kicks game at Metropolitan Stadium, 1976.
Black and white photograph of a Minnesota Kicks game at Metropolitan Stadium, 1976.
Color image of an aerial view of Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, MN, ca. 1958–1966. Photograph: Gordon A. Erickson.
Color image of an aerial view of Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, MN, ca. 1958–1966. Photograph: Gordon A. Erickson.
View of Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. A baseball game is being played on the field. Artist: Hazel Thorson Stoeckeler, 1964.
View of Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. A baseball game is being played on the field. Artist: Hazel Thorson Stoeckeler, 1964.
Color image of Metropolitan Stadium, Home of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings, ca. 1960.
Color image of Metropolitan Stadium, Home of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings, ca. 1960.
Minneapolis Millers uniform jersey made by Wilson Sporting Goods Company, worn by pitcher Alex Konikowski, 1956.
Minneapolis Millers uniform jersey made by Wilson Sporting Goods Company, worn by pitcher Alex Konikowski, 1956.
White leather baseball with red stitching used in the last Minnesota Twins game at Metropolitan Stadium on September 30, 1981.
White leather baseball with red stitching used in the last Minnesota Twins game at Metropolitan Stadium on September 30, 1981.
Minnesota Kicks playoff series ticket, date and time to be announced. ca. 1976-1981.
Minnesota Kicks playoff series ticket, date and time to be announced. ca. 1976-1981.
"Farewell to the Met" Minnesota Vikings pennant, 1981.
"Farewell to the Met" Minnesota Vikings pennant, 1981.
Paper ticket to football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs, 1981.
Paper ticket to football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs, 1981.
Cone-shaped paper megaphone with a metal mouthpiece, ca. 1955-1965.
Cone-shaped paper megaphone with a metal mouthpiece, ca. 1955-1965.

Turning Point

The Metropolitan Stadium goal of hosting Major League professional baseball becomes a reality on April 21, 1961, when the Minnesota Twins play their first home game against the Washington Senators.

Chronology

1954

A committee appointed by the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce purchases 164 acres in Bloomington for the new stadium for $478,899.

June 20, 1955

The groundbreaking ceremony is held at the stadium site.

February 26, 1956

Portable gas heaters used to dry concrete explode, causing a fire that damages one section of the nearly completed stadium.

April 24, 1956

The Minneapolis Millers play their first game against the Wichita Braves with 18,366 fans in the stands, losing 5–3.

October 26, 1960

Major League expansion brings the Washington Senators to Minnesota. The team, owned by Calvin Griffith, becomes the Minnesota Twins.

April 21, 1961

The Minnesota Twins play their first home game at Met Stadium against the Washington Senators before 24,606 fans, losing with a score of 5–3. Governor Elmer Anderson throws out the first ball.

May 21, 1961

A Twins doubleheader against Cleveland draws the stadium's first sellout crowd of 30,999.

September 17, 1961

The Minnesota Vikings play their first home game at the Met, beating the Chicago Bears 37–13.

July 13, 1965

Metropolitan Stadium hosts the All-Star Game, won by the National League with a score of 6–5. The game features Twins players Harmon Killebrew and Earl Battey as well as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, and others.

August 21, 1965

The Beatles perform at Met Stadium to fewer than 30,000 fans. Tickets cost $4.50 and $5.50.

October 14, 1965

The Twins, having won their first American League Championship, lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh game of the World Series at the Met, with a score of 2–0.

May 9, 1976

The Minnesota Kicks soccer team plays its first game at Met Stadium, beating the San Jose Earthquakes four to one.

August 1, 1978

An estimated 65,000 people, the Met's largest crowd, gather for a rock concert featuring the Eagles, Pablo Cruise, and the Steve Miller band.

September 30, 1981

The Minnesota Twins play their last game at Met Stadium, losing 5–2 to the Kansas City Royals.

December 20, 1981

The Vikings play their last game at Metropolitan Stadium, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 10–6.