The late, great Metropolitan Stadium

One thing we love here at Ebbets almost as much as old uniforms is old ballparks, and for pretty much the same reasons. The seeming randomness of many of these buildings led to unusual parks and very distinct stages upon which the game was played. The charm inherent in this randomness is evident because  in many of the faux-retro parks built since Camden Yards there have been attempts (largely unsuccessful, in our view) to engineer these qualities into the planned design of the park. What made these features unique in the original ballparks was, of course, the fact that they were a necessary part of the initial design, and oftentimes they seemed rather haphazard or hodgepodge. For example, Fenway’s fabled Green Monster (now marketed as such) was really just a function of the limitations of the plot of land on which the park stood, and the fact that Landsdowne Street lies directly behind right field. Decks were added to accommodate additional seating or press boxes as the need arose, and the new features were simply added to the existing building. Many parks now considered “classic”, including Ebbets Field, Shibe Park, Forbes Field, and others, developed in this fashion.

One of my favorite examples of this “stadium evolution” is the 50s era Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. Built in the suburbs (Minneapolis and St. Paul traditionally each had their own ballpark for their respective minor league clubs), the Minneapolis Millers moved in in 1956, though the real purpose was to attract a major league tenant. The New York Giants actually seriously considered moving to Minnesota before settling on San Francisco. The original infield-only triple-deck configuration was augmented by an 8,000-seat addition in 1961, when the Washington Senators moved to the Twin Cities in 1960 to become the Twins. That same year the Twin Cities were awarded an NFL expansion franchise and in 1965 another addition of a double-decked section of stands beyond left field was added to increase seating capacity for Vikings games. Each addition to the park enhanced its improvised feel.  Fans in the bleachers had to actually exit the stadium to enter the grandstand, as a concourse connecting the sections was never built. Add the spartan colored metal exterior facade and you have a mid-century classic. We won’t claim this was the best facility in professional sports, but it was of its time, and compared to what came after it – the Metrodome with its parking garage atmosphere and beanbag roof – it looks absolutely charming. Did you attend games at The Met? We’d love to hear what your experience was like.

The Met, abandoned. Its utilitarian construction did not win any architectural awards.

The Met, abandoned. Its utilitarian construction did not win any architectural awards.

4 thoughts on “The late, great Metropolitan Stadium

  1. Excellent stadium to watch a game, great atmosphere. Located in Bloomington with easy access and short walking distance to hotels. May not have been a classic, but nothing like the environment and fantastic Minnesota summer weather to enjoy baseball.

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  2. I attended many Twins games at the Met between the years of 1973-1981 as a youth. Unfortunately for me, I did not turn 16 (old enough to drive myself) until 1982 when the Twins moved into the Metrodome. Great memories. It was a bad ballpark, but it was a “ballpark”. Much more fun to attend games at the Met than the Metrodome. I attended 1 Vikings game at the Met in 1974. I now work less than 1 mile from the Met location, which of course is now the Mall of America. The office building I work in now was built in 1972. It appears in many old photos of the Met from the 70’s, as well as on old footage of “The NFL Today on CBS”.

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  3. While never attending a game at the Met, my memory is of watching a Red Sox-Twins game from there that was interrupted, if memory serves, by a bomb scare and the Sox announcer (I think it was Mel Parnell) saying the broadcast would be suspended until this event was over. Then the camera stayed on the empty ballpark for what seemed like an unusual amount of time until the local station switched to alternate programming until the game resumed. It’s been many, many years; I’d love to know if my memory still indeed serves me with this.

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  4. Attended many a game here from 1958(age 8) watching the Millers(Red Sox farm team) with my dad to the last, sad, rainy day in 1981 with my wife; both sporting ‘Save The Met’ t-shirts. Spent many a sunny afternoon in the 3rd base bleachers(tickets were $1.50) as a teenager watching the greats of that era; Mantle, Kaline, Frank Robinson, Carew and my personal favorite Earl Battey. As the Twins fell on hard times in the 70s, great box seats were plentiful, beer was cheap and the ushers didn’t care where you sat. Every ballpark has their characters. We had ‘Pops’ the beer man. This gentle giant sold Pabst Blue Ribbon and wore an umbrella hat to shade the sun. Found out years later that Maceo Breedlove had been a tremendous ballplayer, born too soon; he was a Negro. Security was non-existent in those days. In the summer of 1970, when the Twins were on the road, a few of us would make use of the batting cage beyond right center and the brand new JUGS pitching machine; even ran into the rookie Blyleven, working out one afternoon. Great ballpark; great memories; developed my love for THE game here.

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