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Metropolitan Stadium

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Home of the Minnesota Twins, 1961 to 1981


BUILT: 1956

CAPACITY: 18,200 (1956); 30,637 (1961); 40,000 (1964); 45,921 (1973)

FIRST MLB GAME: April 21, 1961, vs. Washington Senators (Senators 5, Twins 3)

LAST GAME: September 30, 1981, vs. Kansas City Royals (Royals 5, Twins 2)

LARGEST CROWD: 50,596 - October 14, 1965, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers - World Series

SMALLEST CROWD: 537 - September 20, 1965, vs. Kansas City Athletics

HIGH SEASON ATTENDANCE: 1,483,547 (1967)

LOW SEASON ATTENDANCE: 469,090 (1981, strike shortened season); 662,401 (1974)

OTHER OCCUPANTS: Minnesota Vikings (NFL), 1961 to 1981; Minnesota Kicks (NASL)

For their first twenty seasons, the Minnesota Twins called Metropolitan Stadium home. The park was completed in 1956, and was home to the minor league Minneapolis Millers and site of major league exhibition games before the Twins' arrival. Built on the site of Paul Gerhardt's sweet corn, melon, onion, and radish farm and surrounded by cornfield and cow fields, the stadium was located near the airport in south suburban Bloomington, MN, equidistant from Minneapolis and St. Paul. Originally seating less than 20,000 but designed for expansion, Metropolitan Stadium evolved into a combination of single, double, and triple-decked stands without roofs. Gusty winds from the northwest helped right-handed hitters, earning the park the reputation as a home run haven.

When the Washington Senators decided to move to Minnesota for the 1961 season, it was under the condition that the stadium would be expanded to at least 40,000 seats and the guarantee that the club would draw at least 2,500,000 fans in their first three years there. So, before the Twins began play, new bleachers were built along third base, temporary stands were built in left field, and the park's lower two decks were extended down the right field line. Because of their power hitting lineup, the Twins became contenders soon after their arrival in Minnesota. On July 18, 1962, during a 14-3 win over the Cleveland Indians here, Twins Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison became the first teammates ever to hit grand slams in the same inning. In 1965, the park's capacity increased, as a new double-decked left field stands were finished.

That same season, the World Series came to Minnesota as the Twins won the American League pennant. The Twins won three out of four Series games here but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who swept all three games played in Los Angeles. The next season, on June 9th, the Twins slugged five home runs in the seventh inning, an American League record, on their way to beating the Kansas City A's. The power-hitting Twins made it to the postseason again in 1969 and 1970, losing in the American League Championship Series both years. During the latter season, a bomb scare on August 25th caused the park to be evacuated and a game to be delayed by nearly an hour.

The Twins' performance, as well as the club's attendance, went downhill through the 1970s. Early in the decade, the property was expanded and the Metropolitan Sport Center (universally known as "Met Center"), an indoor arena, was built next door. At that point, Metropolitan Stadium became known as the "Old Met." By mid-decade, the park's outfield dimensions were enlarged as visitors began hitting more home runs than the Twins. The park was also very poorly maintained, and in 1981, broken railings on the third deck overlooking the left field bleachers caused a major safety hazard. The following year, the Twins left the park for the newly built Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, making Metropolitan the first modern stadium to be abandoned.

Metropolitan Stadium was demolished in 1985. Today, Mall of America, a huge shopping center and amusement complex, stand on the park's former site. A pentagonal plate is mounted in the mall's amusement park as a marker of where Home Plate once was, and a seat from the Old Met is installed in a slightly obscure location in the park's log flume ride marking the final destination of Harmon Killebrew's longest home run.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Stew Thornley: "Twin Cities Ballparks of the 20th Century and Beyond", in Daniel R. Levitt, ed.: Short but Wondrous Summers: Baseball in the North Star State, The National Pastime, Volume 42 (2012), pp. 94-103.
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