"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sports venues come and go as we age

I have heard it said, you know you're getting old when you no longer know what time Taco Bell closes. I would argue that age sets in when something you remember as shiny new, becomes scrapyard material.
This should always give us pause. Any physical structure that was once revered, likely had merits or still has some merits, we ought not forget.
I remember writing about the legislative discussions and proposals leading to our Metrodome. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Could you imagine "wasting" the name of a facility like this on a public figure today, in this age of "naming rights?" Such lucrative sums.
At the end we were talking about Mall of America Field, not some long-time Democratic politician. Today's young people would need a primer on Hubert Humphrey. I got to sit in his office chair in Washington D.C. in 1964.
HHH had a sad ending, succumbing to cancer. He was vice president under Lyndon Johnson and ran for president as the Democratic nominee in that tumultuous year of 1968. He would have won had be bent over more to oppose the Viet Nam War, I feel. Hindsight is easy. We were a different country then. It was the days of the "generation gap," a schism with intensity that today's young people cannot imagine. 
I was born in the Twin Cities and spent the first five years of my life in St. Paul. In that time, Minnesota had no major league baseball or football teams. Minneapolis had the Millers, a AAA team that was about the best at its level, but no substitute for the bigs.
Dave Moore might have been the only one who was truly effusive with nostalgia about Nicollet Park. I have seen photos of Nicollet Park, home of the Millers, and it looks rather like a dump. I'm sure little new money went into keeping it up, because everyone knew major league baseball was eventually coming.
There were treats being a Millers fan, like being able to watch Willie Mays as a home team star in the early 1950s.
I was six years old when the Minnesota Twins began playing. My boomer generation was ecstatic. It's sad that by the early 1970s, the Twins had lost their "new car smell" with us. We judged the Twins to be passe at a certain point.
We got on the Minnesota Kicks soccer bandwagon. The problem there was that soccer seemed almost peripheral as the drawing card for the untamed youth of that time. The Kicks were fashionable because their home venue, Metropolitan Stadium (with its sprawling asphalt for parking), became cool as a big hangout. What did we all do for recreation? I'd prefer not to say.
The mid to late 1970s dragged along with fading idealism and faith in our institutions of America. The sagging popularity of the Twins was likely a reflection of that. Jimmy Carter was a kind and gentle man but he couldn't lead us out of that abyss. (I wouldn't mind being able to buy a bank CD or two that would pay the kind of interest we had then!)
We began hearing that a new sports facility would have to replace Met Stadium. We needed a facility that would insulate us from the weather handicaps everyone knew we had here. I interviewed our local state senator about discussions at the Minnesota state capitol. He was a DFLer. Momentum seemed in place for what would become our HHH Metrodome.
No one felt the Dome was going to become any sort of shiny jewel or opulent piece of architecture. It came in under budget! Hooray. We saw it as adequate, maybe a bit better than utilitarian. My first time there, I felt it had an atmosphere rather like a basement, not that I was frowning on that. We needn't worry about weather threats anymore.
I saw Dave Stieb of Toronto toss a pitching gem at the Twins in my first visit there. I had just run a 10K race outside the Dome that was a benefit for Muscular Dystrophy. Carl Pohlad fired the starting gun. Who says the "one percenters" are all bad? I also remember we got drenched by a cloudburst during that 10K. I enjoyed the game and the atmosphere at the Dome, and would return many times.
I have not been to the new Target Field, nor have I been to the TCF Bank football facility. I have rapidly come to the conclusion that football is immoral and unacceptable in our society.
As for Target Field, I suspect all the high prices would turn me off. I remember ordering the "dollar size" beer at the old Met which was the "large" size!
I'm a little worried about the urgency behind these demands for new sports venues that arise every couple decades. Maybe we should slow down and smell the roses some. Metropolitan Stadium was a peaceful setting with an unmistakable big league veneer. It has been too quickly forgotten. The Dome follows its path.
And, what time did you say Taco Bell closes?
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

No comments:

Post a Comment