Music - Achilles last stand by Led Zeppelin
Photographed in 1987 using film.
Metropolitan Stadium "the Met" - Opened in 1956, closed in 1981 and finally demolished in 1985. The site is now the Mall of America.
Location - 8000 Cedar Ave. South Bloomington, Minnesota.
Chances are if you think of old Metropolitan stadium in Bloomington, two things come to mind. One would be the Minnesota Vikings playing football in a freezer. The other would probably be of an unassuming man who wore the number 3 for the Minnesota Twins, Harmon Killebrew. The "killer" was and still is a very gentle man, but his home runs were legendary. Titanic blasts that rattled around many an upper deck of American league stadiums. Home runs were not the only thing at the "Met." Footballs also filled the chilled fall skies. From 1961 till 1981, both the Vikings and Twins shared home field at the Met.
Located at 8000 Cedar Avenue south in the suburb of Bloomington, the Met was about 10 miles south of downtown Minneapolis. The stadium opened on April 24, 1956, as the home to the Minneapolis Millers of the old American Association. The new stadium replaced dilapidated Nicollet Park in Minneapolis, and was built to major league specifications. The new stadium was built in the middle of a 161 acre plot of land located in of all things, a cornfield. The excess land surrounding the stadium was built for parking. Ten years later, the Met sports center would be built to the north of Metropolitan stadium. Thus the area would be known as the Metropolitan sports complex.
The Minnesota Twins were born in 1961, BUT were not an expansion team. The original Washington Senators relocated to Minnesota in 1961 and the new expansion Washington Senators were launched that same year. Coming to the upper Midwest was the aforementioned Harmon Killebrew. He would soon become a fan favorite. The Twins opened the Met for professional baseball on April 21, 1961. Oddly enough, their first opponent was.....the new Washington Senators. A chilled crowd of 24,604 came out to see the game. They left disappointed however, as the Senators won 5-3. The Senators Dale Long had the honor of hitting the first home run in the new park. He connected off the Twins Camilo Pascual in the first inning. The Twins first home run happened in the second inning as first baseman Don Mincher connected off the Senators Joe McClain. The Twins would gain their first ever victory in the new park the next night, as they defeated the same Senators 5-4. Bill Pleis got the Twins first win. Over the course of the first four years in the stadium, the Twins got better and better. As the old Senators, they were just God awful, but being reborn in the upper Midwest gave the Twins new life. The year 1965 was a great season for the Twins. The stadium hosted the major league all star game in July, as the national league beat the American league 6-5. More good fortune would happen at the Met in October of 1965, as the Twins got into their first ever world series. The opponents were the Los Angeles Dodgers, with that vaunted pitching twosome of Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. The series came down to a game seven at the Met, as the Twins Jim Kaat faced Sandy Koufax. As Johnny Roseboro tells the story, Koufax arm hurt so much, he couldn't throw his devastating curve. The Twins knew this, but Koufax pitched on, throwing 98% fastballs. As Harmon Killebrew said, "We knew he was hurting, and what was coming AND WE STILL couldn't hit it." Koufax threw a 2 hitter as the Dodgers won 2-0 to win the World Series. This would be the only World Series played at the Met. The Twins would make the playoffs in 1969 and 1970, but would not advance to the world series until 1987. By then they were playing in the Metrodome. Near the end of the Twins stay at the Met, things were going bad at the park. The upper deck in left was condemned, and basically the park was very poorly maintained and falling apart. The end for the Twins at the Met came on September 30, 1981. They lost to the Kansas City Royals 5-2 as 15,900 fans said good-bye. The final home run was hit by the Twins Pete Mackanin in the loss. Larry Gura, who gave up the last home run, got the win for the Royals in the finale. The last Twins victory came on September 27th against the Texas Rangers. The Twins won 5-2 as Pete Redfern got credit for the victory. Thus the end came to Twins baseball at the Met. No longer would the likes of Bob Allison, Rod Carew, Dean Chance, Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew play on the green carpet.
The Met was a busy place in 1961 as the NFL expanded to the Twin Cities. The Minnesota Vikings came to be, as did the Twins in 1961. Unlike their baseball cousins, the Vikings were a true expansion team. They were a rag tag bunch and played their first home game on September 17, 1961, against the Chicago Bears. Unlike the Twins, the Vikings were winners in their debut. They beat the Bears 37-13 and were off and running. Unfortunately, the season was not as good as the first game. They limped home with a very dismal 3-11 record and a last place finish. Things would turn for the good later in the decade, as they built the famous purple people eaters defense. In 1969 they had the best record in the NFL and defeated the Cleveland Browns 27-7 at the Met. The Vikings went on to Super Bowl IV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Heavily favored, the Vikings came home losers. During the 70's the Vikings made 3 other trips to the Super Bowl, and like the first trip, they came home with losses. Their last season at the Met was also in 1981. The curtain came down for them on a cold December 20th as they lost their last game to the Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 10-6. The next season would see the Vikings move into the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.
The Vikings had a decided advantage at the Met, much like the Green Bay Packers have at Lambeau field. Most teams HATED coming to the Met late in the season. Temperatures could be below freezing and even below 0. The Vikings took full advantage of this, and had a great home record late in NFL seasons. But the stadium had flaws, and was not up to NFL standards for seating. The snowy fields that Fran Tarkenton, Carl Eller, Alan Page and Jim Marshall ran on was silent forever.
The Met sat abandoned after the 1981 season. It was not used and maintained at all. Finally, on January 28, 1985, demolition of the old yard started. It took 4 months to dismantle the home of Killebrew, Carew, Tarkenton and Page. The lot sat vacant for seven years before construction began on what is now the Mall of America. Appropriately, the South Street of the mall was named Killebrew Drive.
Met. Stadium site in 1987, just a vacant lot.
Site of Met. Stadium in 2000. The Mall of America....