by Frank Bigelow
A whole generation of Minnesota baseball fans is growing up with the absurd notion that baseball is an indoor game meant to be played under a dome.
Outdoor baseball has a long and glorious history here in Minnesota.
Prior to the Twins’ arrival, both the Minneapolis Millers and the St.
Paul Saints played outdoors before large and enthusiastic crowds for 60 years.
From 1961 to 1981, the Twins played outside at a wonderful venue called Metropolitan
Stadium. From 1950s’ grade school on, I was eager for sun-drenched Sunday
afternoons with my father and brother watching those games. The teams may not
have always been that great but the crowds certainly were. Affectionately known
as “the Met,” the Mall of America stands there now.
An antiseptic, flying-saucer-like structure, called the Metrodome,
replaced the Met in 1982. No one voted the Metrodome into existence. It just
appeared on the horizon, like weeds in an untended garden. The powers that be
crowed that this would be a terrific boon to downtown business. Yet, 23 years
later, the area around our first publicly-subsidized stadium remains barren
Meanwhile, in St. Paul, a minor league, independent team—
the reincarnated Saints— play in an outdoor park and sell out game after
game, year after year. There’s even been times that the Saints have outdrawn
the Twins when both played on the same date.
If the people behind the Metrodome had any foresight at all, wouldn’t
they at least have put a retractable roof on the Dome? Why should they be trusted
with hundreds of millions more of the public’s money? If Carl Pohlad is
the baseball fan he claims to be, as one of the richest men in the country,
he should fund a new stadium himself. Public referendums make it clear that
Minnesotans don’t see a stadium as priority. Team-owners exploit fans’
love of the game to enhance their bottom-line at public expense.
Frank Bigelow is a veteran of the fight to save the Met
and a member of the Society of Baseball Researchers. A St. Paul resident, he
regularly expresses his lifelong love of baseball through Toastmasters public