Author’s Note: This is the first in a series that, hopefully, will ultimately include reviews of all major league ballparks. Since I am most familiar with my home park, this review will take a slightly different form than those to follow. Feel free to leave your feedback of the park as well.
It seems that ripping on the Metrodome has become a sport in and of itself for Minnesotans. For the most part the criticism is appropriate. Since those of us in the upper midwest have been inundated with the negatives of the Teflon coated eyesore, I will do my best to accentuate the positives, but I am only human.
Not much positive here. The outside of the dome is rather dull, unless one likes to ponder how much it looks like the moonwalks found at children’s birthday parties. They have attempted to create some character in recent years by adding the plaza (where one can often find a moonwalk to compare), but have largely fallen short. There are no statues of great players, monuments, or anything else outside that would indicate there is a team inside that has some history, definitely a minus for the dome.
There is a lot of parking around, but it can be costly and not terribly convenient if the weather is poor. Taking the light rail to the game may be the best option, but I have yet to try that.
Watching a game at the Metrodome is a lot like watching a video baseball game. It looks pretty real, but the graphics just aren’t quite up to par with a real game. It helped a lot when the Twins got rid of the old fading aqua colored turf and replaced it with fieldturf a few years ago, but there is still something missing from a ball game at the dome.
The most prominent feature on the field is the hefty bag in right field (which is currently adorned with a giant red truck). The baggie effectively changes the approach of the rightfielder similar to the effect the green monster in Boston has on the leftfielder, but is generally not held in as high esteem as its New England counterpart.
Next to the right field wall is a giant bottle of milk. Try as I might, I am not able to pretend it is not there. I have a theory that the Twins recent offensive woes has something to do with the fact that the milk bottle lights up with every Twins homerun. Its classic behaviorism- the negative consequence (milk bottle lighting up) immediately following the behavior (homerun hitting) tends to eliminate said behavior.
The Little Things:
The pitch speed indicator is a nice touch, though too often it reads 55. There is also a pitch count indicator that, when updated regularly, is a helpful tool. Out of town scores for both leagues are listed and kept up to date around the park. All of these items have become pretty standard at ballparks, so there is really nothing that stands out. On your way into the stadium, make sure to pick up your Gameday program (not the Twins official program, there is a difference). On certain weeknight games, the Twins provide “Twingo” cards to anyone who is interested. Scorecard Bingo is a great way for a beginner to learn to keep score, and it keeps the wife interested.
The Metrodome is not known for its food. It has all of the standard ballpark items: hot dogs, pizza, nachos, etc. Wednesday nights is dollar-a-dog night, which is a fun event if you get your dogs before they run out (usually about the 3rd Inning or so). On other nights the best bets are Famous Dave’s BBQ sandwich, the Chicago dog, or the Philly from the Twin Cities Grill. The wife likes the fruit smoothies with the little umbrellas in them, but you may have to walk a little bit to find them. Also, the tendency is for the ice cream place to run out of ice cream by about the 6th inning, so plan accordingly.
Depending on how good the team is, the Metrodome can be a fun place to watch a game. When they come, Twins fans can be as knowledgeable as any in the league (though they still have the bad habit of doing the wave at every game- usually at the worst times). The stadium can get downright loud from crowd noise when its full. Most of the time, however, attendance is not quite as good, though the Twins make sure the noise remains by playing top 40 hits over the PA. On the plus side, low attendance means more foot room for those of us who aren’t meant to fit into stadium seating, and we can angle ourselves toward homeplate (most of the seats are perfect if you are watching shallow left field-where the 50 yard line would be for the purple team).
Hopefully the game you see at the Metrodome is good, because that is where the value is. This is not one of those parks where the experience is the thing. Bad baseball is bad baseball, but somehow it is made worse when housed at the dome. Thankfully the Twins have put a decent team on the field the last several years, so there has been plenty of good reasons to go. I have a lot of great memories in the dome, but will not be shedding any tears when the Twins finally move out (unless they move to Las Vegas).