Last Monday night's game at TCF Bank stadium was a wonderful walk down memory lane for me. It evoked some powerful memories of the Vikings in their heyday of Fran Tarkenton, Bud Grant, the Purple People Eaters...and Met Stadium.
It's obvious that the Vikings need a new stadium, or they'll leave Minnesota. For those of you that think they won't, well, we'll just agree to disagree. Follow along after the jump while I try to convince you how great it would be if the Vikings would get an outdoor stadium.
I haven't lived in Minnesota since I was a teenager. I am not a resident, don't pay taxes there, more than likely won't ever live there again. I have no family there anymore, so the only time I visit is as I drive through on my way to Canada to fish with my stepdad and brothers. So I have no dog in this fight other than being a Vikings fan. That said...
The new stadium should be an outdoor facility. The two main arguments against an outdoor stadium is that it 1) won't sellout in the winter months, and 2) a retractable roof will attract a Super Bowl.
To argument 1--If the team puts a good product on the field, it will sell out, if they don't, they won't. The Patriots sell out, the Bears sell out, the Packers sell out. The Lions play indoors, they suck, and they don't sell out. The Met sold out for years. It wasn't until 1981, I think, that the string was broken. In the 90's, with mostly mediocre teams, the Dome didn't sell out. It has nothing to do with the facility, but everything to do with the product on display in said facility. And there are a lot of folks who won't go to the Metrodome, but would go to a game at an outdoor stadium. Had the Monday night game been a SUnday game, I would have been there trying to get a ticket and a seat. Get a new stadium, and I'm going back once a year, minimum, to see them play outside.
Argument 2--The Metrodome has played host to one---one---Super Bowl since the Vikes moved in back in 1982. If the Vikes do get a retractable roof stadium, they'll get one more, and that's it. The NFL doesn't like playing their marquee game in a cold weather city, but they threw Detroit a bone because of their new facility, just as they did the Silverdome. The Super Bowl never returned to Motown until Ford Field, and now that they've fulfilled their obligation, it'll never be back there. Same blueprint for Minneapolis.
I went to a bunch of games at the old Met as a kid, and I'm sure as I get older I look back on those days with more rose color in my glasses than in years past, but it was a blast. I was dressed like the little brother in A Christmas Story, I couldn't bend my arms, but I wasn't cold. My old man had a thermos full of hot chocolate for me and "hot chocolate", (with maybe just a touch of Wild Turkey) for him, and the tailgating was great--cute little kids always ate free, ha ha.
The Met was an erector set rat trap of a stadium, and I loved it. It was 47,000 crazies foot stomping on the upper deck bleachers, making so much noise that your body...shook...in place. It was a baseball stadium that shoe-horned a football field in there. The seats were a long way from the field, the back of the end zone butted up against the third base box seats on one end and the right field bleachers on the other, and both teams were on the same sideline.
The scoreboard has more burned out lights in it than lights that actually worked, and there was a section that was a "Vikes-O-Gram", little informational messages that weren't read as much as they were deciphered, because of all the burned out lights.
But most importantly, from 1961-1981, the Vikings might not have hosted any Super Bowls, but they played in four of them, they won an NFL Championship, and they won the NFC Central 11 out of 13 times from 1968-1981. That is a dominance that isn't seen anymore, and I think the weather had a lot to do with it.
The Minnesota Vikings took pride in their toughness, and their defense was as exciting to watch as the offense. It seemed like there was a goal line stand at every game I went to, and as the sun would set over the frozen prairie, the temperature would drop, the fans would hunker down as the wind whipped, and it became Viking time. You could feel it changing, and if the Vikings were losing, they always rallied. If they had a lead, they finished it off.
They completely dominated their opponents most years, and there was a definite psychological advantage the Vikings held over them. Ahmad Rashad once remarked that when he played for the Bills, when the schedule came out the first thing they would look for is to see if they had to go play at Minnesota in December. If they did, he said they just wrote that game off. That game was won by the Vikings before training camp! And he played for the Buffalo freakin' Bills!!
I remember one game I went to against San Diego. The Chargers came out all bundled up with coats and long sleeved shirts and the like, and were trying to go through their warm ups. Some guys were huddled over by a heater, and they were all cupping their hands and blowing into them, even with the gloves on.
Then, the Vikings appeared out of the first base dugout. No one had a jacket on, or gloves, or long sleeves. They sprinted to their side of the field and lined up---perfectly--for warm ups. To them, it might as well have been Mankato in August. About half the members of the Chargers looked over and shook their head in disbelief. The game was over before the coin flip.
When they moved indoors, the team lost their identity, that part that made them Vikings. They lost their essence, and it won't ever be recaptured until they play outdoors again.
I don't care about Minnesota hosting Super Bowls. I care about the Minnesota Vikings winning Super Bowls, and I think that's only going to happen if they get an outdoor stadium.
Merry Christmas, DN. May we have Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men.