Music - Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue
Photographed in 1987 and 2000 using film.
Minneapolis Armory - Built in 1935 and still standing. Part time home to the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA from 1947 thru 1959. It was used full time by the Lakers from 1959 thru 1960. The Lakers would relocate to Los Angeles for the 1960 - 1961 season.
Location - 500 - 530 6th St. S. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I was born and raised in southern California. As a kid, I used to listen to Chick Hearn call Laker games on radio and TV. He would often mention the Minneapolis Lakers. I often wondered where the Minneapolis Lakers played. I did a lot of research and found their Minnesota homes. Two main ones to be exact. The first one you see is the old Minneapolis Armory. The second one will be the Minneapolis Auditorium. One still stands to this day, the other was demolished. Here is their story.
At 500 South 6th Street in downtown Minneapolis you will find a barrel shaped building sitting in the middle of skyscrapers and office buildings. This odd shaped structure is the Minneapolis armory. The armory was opened in 1936 to house the Minnesota national guard. The guard remained there for 44 years before moving out in 1980. However, the guard was not the only tenant. From the late 30's thru the 70's, the armory was host to many civic events in the Twin Cities. Political rallies, golden gloves boxing, the circus and concerts played under her roof. Janis Joplin and black Sabbath were just a few of the rock acts that shook the building. Besides the national guard, the other team that ran drills inside was the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA. Starting in 1947 and going thru the 1959 season, the Lakers used the armory as a part time home. Most of their home games were played at the Minneapolis auditorium during this time. For the 1959-1960 season, the armory would be their only home. Coincidentally, it was also the last year the Lakers were in Minneapolis. After the 1960 season, the team left the Twin Cities for the glitz of Hollywood and Los Angeles. Gone were the days of the likes of George Mikan, Vern Mikkelsen, Clyde Lovellette, Slater Martin and Jim Pollard, all NBA hall of famers. One other hall of famer who played for the Lakers was a future coach. The hall of fame he is in is the NFL. His name is Bud Grant. Yes, the former Minnesota Vikings coach played for the Minneapolis Lakers from 1949 thru the 1951 season, before leaving for the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL.
After the national guard left in 1980, the armory was not used very much. Hennepin County bought the vacant armory in 1989 for 4.7 million dollars. The county was intent on tearing it down and putting up a jail on the site. However, the Minnesota historical society stepped in and sued to stop the demolition of the armory. In 1993 the Minnesota supreme court ruled the building could not be demolished. It was protected under state law because of it's historical status. In 1997, Hennepin County sold the building for 2.6 million dollars to a private company as a parking structure. It is still used as a parking garage to this day. In 1998 though, the band Aerosmith recorded their video for "I don't wanna miss a thing" inside the old armory. Rock on!
The Minneapolis armory was lucky, she was spared the wrecking ball, unlike a lot of other stadiums and arenas before and after her. So the building with the balcony along the southern wall that is patterned after a battleship bridge and murals painted by Lucia Wiley and Elsa Jemne still stands at the corner of S. 6th Street and S. 5th Ave. If you ride by, think of all the great games that took place under the barrel roof. Thanks Chick!
The old Minneapolis Armory. One of the original homes for the Minneapolis Lakers. 3/87
You can see how close the Armory was to the Metrodome.
The front of the armory off S. 6th St. 3/87
Under the clock you can see the balcony that resembles a bridge of a battleship. You can also see a basketball court between the two trucks on the floor. 3/87
Here is a view of center court. The basketball court is visible in the photo also. 3/87
A better view of the balcony. 3/87
The front of the Aromory on a bright crisp spring day in March of 1987.
Fast forward 13 years and you can see the armory hasn't changed very much. 8/00
A close up of the clock and balcony. 8/2000
The concession stands and walls have been removed and the armory is now a parking garage. 8/00
The baskeball floor is long gone, parking spaces now line the floor. My rental car is the white one in the middle of the picture. I was on my way to the Metrodome for a Twins game. The Metrodome is about 3 blocks east of the armory, 8/00
A RARE view of the Lakers old locker room in the Armory. 8/00
One last look at the old building. At least she still stands proud. 8/00