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When you read this, the Minnesota Vikings will have played their last game ever in the Hubert H. Humphery Metrodome. The Twins and Gophers have already entered new homes, so the Vikes were the last regular tenants.

Many people disliked the Metrodome for various reasons. I was not one of them. Listen, I love outdoor baseball and have enjoyed some nice days at Target Field. However, I’ve also been there when it was 100 degrees and when it was 45 degrees and rainy. The past idea of attending a professional sporting event, with the prices I have to pay to do so, and being able to sit in 70 degree comfort without the threat of being dumped on, was comforting.

I’ve actually had the privilege of seeing baseball in three different stadiums. My first-ever Twins game was during the final season at the Met against the White Sox. I’ve been to at least one game a year at Target Field. Still, there have been many more games and memories provided at the Dome. As you traipse through your own memories, allow me to indulge in some of mine.

Kirby Puckett has always been my favorite Twin. This might be due in large part to the first game I saw at the Dome and the inimitable way Bob Casey announced the Twins’ center fielder. My sister thought it was Kirby Pick-up, and who was I to change her mind? Besides, I was too busy exploring this new marvel of a baseball field. Over the years, I think I checked out every nook and cranny I could. Just like my first trip to Target Field, I spent as much time looking around as I did watching baseball.

One summer, my baseball coach bet us that if we won our first playoff game, he’d take us all to a Twins game. It seemed like a safe bet for him; we were the last place team in the league and had gotten swamped twice already by the team we were playing. Never underestimate boys’ desire to watch baseball! We won the game and got good seats behind the first base dugout. We even got to sit by fans from the Toronto Blue Jays, the team the Twins were playing. I still have the Canadian dollar they gave me!

The most important games I saw were Games 1 of the 1991 ALCS and World Series. Dad was able to get tickets in lower left field, and I’ll never forget those games. The atmosphere was incredible, and we only sat down between innings, especially during the World Series. A lady in front of me had a shirt her brother had made and was selling, urging fans to “Stop the Chop,” in reference to the Atlanta Braves. I literally bought that shirt off her back! (Don’t worry, she had another one on under it!)

The only other game that approached those in sound was when Mark McGwire was chasing the home run record in 1998. Michelle and I went to a game where he hit a home run, and the noise was effusive. It even got loud when he jacked some out during batting practice. I’m an old-school baseball guy and still think Roger Maris holds the single-season home run record, but at the time, McGwire was a god in cleats.

Thanks to Jeff Reese, I had some unique experiences at the Metrodome for NRHEG baseball games too. I went along the first year of the new turf when the varsity was going to play. It was pretty awesome to explore the bowels of the stadium and the locker rooms. Plus, I got to walk the field and take some fly balls while staring at the roof. To top things off though, I even got a chance to umpire! The regular game was over and there was still time remaining in the teams’ rental time. The umps had taken off, so I got to step in for a scrimmage for about an hour.

It only got better the next couple times the high school team went. Coach Reese arranged for me to announce the game from the press box. I’d always wanted to play with a real sound system, and here was my chance! I even tried my best to remind people, as Bob Casey always did before Twins games, that there was, “NO smoking in the Metrodome!”

I saw a few Gophers football games over the years, but never watched the Vikings in person. The ticket prices always seemed too extravagant to pay, and I can only imagine what they will be at the new stadium! I’m sure many of you have your own memories of this outdated stadium, and I hope you’re already beginning to build new memories at the new ones!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is falstaffian, which means fat and jolly, as in, “Win or lose, there would be many falstaffian fans at the last game at the Metrodome, imbibing in one last shot at Dome Dogs.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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