MUSIC - the way you look tonight by Ric Ocasek
Photographed in 1987 and 2000 using film.
Met Sports Center - Opened in 1967 and demolished in 1994. Site is now an IKEA store. Known as Metropolitan Sports Center 1967 - 1982, Met Center 1982 - 1994.
Location - 7901 Cedar Ave. South Bloomington, Minnesota.
St. Paul Civic Center - Opened in 1973 and demolished in 1998, the Xcel energy center was built on the site.
Location - 143 W. Fourth Street St. Paul, Minnesota.
Met Center - The address of the simple white rectangular building was 7901 Cedar Avenue S, Bloomington Minnesota. All you had to tell Minnesotans was, "meet me at the Met center." The Met center was about 10 miles south of downtown Minneapolis in the suburb of Bloomington. The Metropolitan sports center was born in 1967 as were the newest team in the NHL, the Minnesota North Stars. They called it home for the next 26 seasons. Fans would flock to the Met in the frigid cold winter to watch their beloved North Stars play. For the first 15 years, the arena was known by the long name of Metropolitan sports center. In 1982, the name was shortened to the Met center, the name it retained until its untimely death in 1994.
The Met center was one of the finest hockey facilities in the United States. The ice surface was always considered one of the best in the NHL. What drove the North Stars out of town was a lack of revenue in the form of luxury suites and other amenities. It was also known for great locker rooms, training facilities and lighting. It was NOT as fan friendly (AKA wide concourses) as some of the other arenas in the league. Many visiting players sang the praises of the old Met. Sadly, after the North Stars flew south to Dallas, pro hockey ceased to exist in the Met.
The North Stars inaugural game at the Met took place on October 21, 1967, against the also new California Seals. The teams battled to a 3-3 tie in that first home game. Tragedy would strike the Met and the North Stars that same season. On January 13, 1968, forward Bill Masterson suffered a fatal hit in a game against the same California Seals. Four minutes into that fateful game, Masterson was checked by Seals players Larry Cahan and Ron Harris. He fell backwards, his head hitting the ice. Teammates rushed to his side as blood gushed from his nose and mouth. He murmured the words "never again, never again." Those would be the last words he would speak. He was rushed to the hospital with a massive brain hemorrhage injury. The injury was so severe that doctors were unable to perform surgery. Masterson died two days later without ever regaining consciousness. Masterson was not wearing a helmet. There was no rule regarding wearing helmets in the NHL until 1979, a full 12 years after the Masterson tragedy. The North Stars never issued Masterson's number 19 to any other player after his passing. Finally in 1987, the North Stars retired his number to the rafters. The NHL has the Bill Masterson award issued every year for dedication, sportsmanship and perseverance. Ironically, Masterson scored the first ever goal for the North Stars on October 15, 1967, against .... the same California Seals.
The North Stars had an up and down success rate in Minnesota. Their first trip to the Stanley Cup finals was in the 1980-1981 season. They lost the finals in 5 games to the New York Islanders. It would be 10 years before they would be back. Despite a losing record during the regular season, the Stars caught fire and raced thru the playoffs to reach the finals. They would play 6 grueling games before losing the cup to the Mario Lemieux led Pittsburgh Penguins. That would be the last hurrah for the Stars. Due to the usual ownership garbage, the team abandoned the Twin Cities and the Met Center after the 1992-1993 season.
The North Stars were not the only tenant of the Met center. They were the most consistent one though. After the Minneapolis Lakers left for Los Angeles in 1960, basketball would return in the form of the old upstart ABA. The Minnesota Muskies were in the inaugural 1967-1968 season of the ABA and made the Met center home. They moved to Miami in 1968 to become the Floridians. The following season the ABA came back to Minnesota in the form of the Minnesota Pipers. Like their brethren Muskies, the Pipers lasted only one season at the Met center. The Piperes were in Pittsburgh for the 67-68 season before moving to Minnesota. After that disaster of a season in Minnesota, the team flew back to Pittsburgh to become the Condors. The Condors folded after the 1972 season. Thus ending basketball in Minnesota until the Timberwolves came along in 1989.
The Minnesota Strikers of the old MISL also called the Met center home from 1984 thru 1988.
The Met center sat vacant of a pro team for about a year. Finally in 1994, the old building was imploded, err they tried to implode it. Three separate attempts were made to bring the building down with explosives. She was a stubborn old girl, and finally had to be brought down the old fashioned way. The site sat vacant for years. Now an IKEA store sits on the site, part of the phase II of the Mall of America. Ironically, the old Metropolitan stadium (the home of the Twins and Vikings) was demolished in 1985 to make room for the mega Mall of America.
Another arena in the Twin Cities was the old St. Paul Civic Center. The Civic Center stood at 143 W 4th St. in St. Paul. The arena was opened on January 1, 1973, with a hockey game between the Minnesota Fighting Saints and the Houston Aeros. The game ended in a 4-4 tie. It was the home for both versions of the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA. The WHA was a lot like the old ABA. Teams folded in the middle of the night. The first Saints were no exception. They went out of sight on February 28, 1976, in the middle of the WHA season. Their final game was on February 25th and ended in a 2-1 loss to the San Diego Mariners.
After the NHL California Golden Seals moved to Cleveland in 1976, the WHA Cleveland Crusaders moved west to St. Paul and became the "NEW" Fighting Saints. They lasted until their final game on January 14, 1977, this time a 9-5 win over the Indianapolis Racers. Like the first Saints, the team folded midway thru the 1977 season.
One of the unique features of the Civic Center were its clear acrylic dasher side boards for hockey. They were in use until 1994 when the Minnesota Moose of the IHL replaced the clear with standard white dasher boards. The Moose played in the Civic Center for two years before moving up to Winnipeg Manitoba. During the mid 90's the Civic Center was renamed the RiverCentre, a name which it retained until it was demolished in 1998. The new Xcel Energy Center sits on the same site as the old Civic Center. The Xcel center is home to the NHL Minnesota Wild.
Minnesotan's love their hockey, and the Met center was one of the best places to watch a game. Unfortunately, due to the lack of luxury suites, the arena was doomed. I was lucky enough to catch a game at the arena in 1987, and thought the building was great. Every seat has a good view of the ice. In this modern day, money talks, this time in the form of the luxury suites. Old buildings die a tragic death, while the new ones prosper. Give me the old ones any day.
The Met on a cold and rainy day. 3/87
Photo from internet, date unknown.
The interior of the Met Center. The seats are gold, green and white. They are also the team colors for the Minnesota North Stars. 3/87
The typical 80's gondola scoreboard. No frills, and basic. 3/87
Greg Millen waits for the St. Louis Blues. 3/87
The net is off its moorings and the puck is in Don Beaupre's glove. 3/87
One last look at the old Met center. I am sure there are thousands of locals who miss both the North Stars and the old arena. 3/87
This plot of ground is next door to the Met. On this site is where the old Metropolitan stadium stood, the longtime home of the Twins and Vikings. It was demolished in 1985. The mega Mall of America now stands on the site. 3/87
A better view of where old Met stadium stood. You can see how close the Met center was to the old stadium. 3/87
Fast forward to 2000. Looking across Lindau Lane towards what was the old Met stadium, which is now a parking garage and the mall of America. This shot is from where the old Met center parking lot was.
More of where Met stadium was.
Another shot of the site of the Met Center, before IKEA, looking at the old Met stadium site.
The St. Paul civic center, onetime home for both incarnations of the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the old World Hockey Association. 3/87
Map showing where the old St. Paul Civic Center was. The Xcel Energy Center was built on top of where the old St. Paul Civic Center was.
The interior of the St. Paul Civic Center during a home improvement show. 3/87
No luxury suites at the Civic Center. No bad seats either. Something had to give. 3/87
The entrance to the Civic Center. 3/87
The Civic Center had a relativly short life, but the site was reborn after the building was torn down. The Xcel center stands on this site now. 3/87