Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to Be a New York Basketball Fan In Minnesota -- 2016-17 Edition

This coming Wednesday night, the New York Knicks will visit Minneapolis, to play the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Brooklyn Nets will do so on January 28.

Before You Go. The game will be played indoors, but you'll only be indoors for 4 hours at most. This is Minnesota, and November 30 is out late Autumn, and January 28 is our mid-Winter. Minnesota's Winter lasts from Halloween to Easter.

So you should consult the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press websites for their forecasts. The temperatures that they're predicting for next Wednesday aren't so bad: Mid-30s for daylight, mid-20s for night. Fortunately, they're not talking about any chance of snow.

Minnesota is in the Central Time Zone, 1 hour behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Timberwolves averaged 14,137 fans per home game last season. That ranks 29th in the NBA, ahead of only the Denver Nuggets. It's about 73 percent of capacity, ahead of only the Philadelphia 76ers. This has led to suggestions that the Twin Cities really aren't big enough to support teams in all 4 sports, and, with the Twins having a new stadium, the Vikings about to get one, and no one willing to take the NHL away from Minnesota a 2nd time, the T-Wolves are the likeliest to go.

At any rate, most likely, you'll be able to show up 5 minutes before the scheduled tipoff, and get any seat you can afford. In the lower level, the 100 sections, T-Wolves tickets between the baskets can be had for as low as $289, and behind them at $81. In the upper level, the 200 sections, they go $50 between and $31 behind.

Getting There. It's 1,199 road miles from Times Square in New York to Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis (the spot where Mary Tyler Moore threw her hat in the air in the opening sequence of her 1970-77 CBS sitcom). Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

If you order early, you could get a round-trip flight from Newark to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for under $700, but your flight will probably not be nonstop. More likely, you'll have to pay at least $800. When you get there, the Number 55 light rail takes you from the airport to downtown in under an hour, so at least that is convenient.

Bus? Not a good idea. Greyhound runs 3 buses a day between Port Authority and Minneapolis, all with at least one transfer, in Chicago and possibly elsewhere as well. The total time, depending on the number of stops, is between 26 and 31 hours, and costs $480 round-trip, although it can be dropped to $364 with advanced purchase. The Greyhound terminal is at 950 Hawthorne Avenue, at 9th Street North, just 3 blocks from Nicollet Mall, 2 from the Target Center.

Train? An even worse idea. Amtrak will make you leave Penn Station on the Lake Shore Limited at 3:40 PM Eastern Time, arrive at Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM Central Time, and then the Empire Builder, their Chicago-to-Seattle run, will leave at 2:15 PM and arrive in St. Paul (not Minneapolis) at 10:03 PM. From there, 730 Transfer Road, you'd have to take the Number 16 or 50 bus to downtown Minneapolis. And it's $429 round-trip. And you'd probably have to spent not one but two nights in a hotel.

If you decide to drive, it’s far enough that it will help to get someone to go with you and split the duties, and to trade off driving and sleeping. You'll need to get into New Jersey, and take Interstate 80 West. You'll be on I-80 for the vast majority of the trip, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Ohio, in the western suburbs of Cleveland, I-80 will merge with Interstate 90. From this point onward, you won’t need to think about I-80 until you head home; I-90 is now the key, through the rest of Ohio and Indiana.

Just outside Chicago, I-80 will split off from I-90, which you will keep, until it merges with Interstate 94. For the moment, though, you will ignore I-94. Stay on I-90 through Illinois, until reaching Madison, Wisconsin, where you will once again merge with I-94. Now, I-94 is what you want, taking it into Minnesota and the Twin Cities, with Exit 242D being your exit for downtown St. Paul, and Exit 233A for downtown Minneapolis.

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and a half in New Jersey, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Pennsylvania, 4 hours in Ohio, 2 and a half hours in Indiana, an hour and a half in Illinois, 2 and a half hours in Wisconsin, and half an hour in Minnesota. That’s 17 hours and 45 minutes. Counting rest stops, preferably halfway through Pennsylvania and just after you enter both Ohio and Indiana, outside Chicago and halfway across Wisconsin, and accounting for traffic in New York, the Chicago suburbs and the Twin Cities, it should be no more than 23 hours, which would save you time on both Greyhound and Amtrak, if not on flying.

Once In the City. Like the baseball Twins (who arrived in 1961), the NFL Vikings (also 1961), the NHL Wild (2000) and the departed NHL North Stars (1967-1993) and the WHA Fighting Saints (1972-1977), the Timberwolves (1989) are called "Minnesota," because they didn't want to slight either one of the "Twin Cities." The previous NBA team, the Minneapolis Lakers (1947-1960), took the name of their host city.

Well, these "twins" are not identical: They have different mindsets, and, manifesting in several ways that included both having Triple-A teams until the MLB team arrived, have been known to feud as much as San Francisco and Oakland, Dallas and Fort Worth, Baltimore and Washington, if not as much as Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Minneapolis has about 414,000 people, St. Paul 302,000, and the combined metropolitan area a little under 4.2 million, ranking 15th in the U.S. -- roughly the combined population of Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island -- or that of Manhattan and Queens. Denver is the only metropolitan area with teams in all 4 sports that's smaller. And, despite being the smaller city, St. Paul is the State capital.

The State House in St. Paul

"Minneapolis" is a combination of the Dakota tribal word for water, and the Greek word for city. It was founded in 1867 with the name St. Anthony Falls. St. Paul, founded in 1854, is also named for an early Christian saint. In Minneapolis, Hennepin Avenue separates the numbered Streets from North and South, and the Mississippi River is the "zero point" for the Avenues, many (but not all) of which also have numbers. In St. Paul, Wabasha Street separates East and West, and while there's no North and South, address numbers rise as you get further north of the River.

Each city once had 2 daily papers, now each is down to 1: Minneapolis had the Star and the Tribune, merged in 1982; St. Paul the Pioneer and the Dispatch, merged into the Pioneer Press and Dispatch in 1985, with the Dispatch name dropped in 1990. Today, they are nicknamed the Strib and the Pi Press.

The sales tax in the State of Minnesota is 6.875 percent. It's 7.775 percent in Minneapolis' Hennepin County, and 7.625 percent in St. Paul's Ramsey County. Bus and Light Rail service is $2.25 per ride during rush hours, $1.75 otherwise.
ZIP Codes in Minnesota start with the digits 54 and 55; with Minneapolis having 553, 554 or 555; and St. Paul having 550 and 551. The Area Codes are 612 for Minneapolis, 507 for its suburbs, and 651 for St. Paul.

Going In. Separated from Target Field by I-394 and 2nd Avenue, the Target Center -- the discount store chain is headquartered in Minneapolis -- has been home to the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves since the 1990-91 season, their 2nd.
It even looks a bit like a Target store.

The official address is 600 First Avenue North, and the arena is also bounded by 6th and 7th Streets and Rod Carew Drive, downtown. The Blue and Green Lines on the light rail stop at Warehouse Hennepin Avenue station. From there, it's a 2-block walk to the arena down 5th Street and 1st Avenue. If you drive in, parking can be had for as little as $5.00.

The court is laid out northeast-to-southwest. The Minnesota Lynx also play here, and have become the WNBA’s answer to the San Antonio Spurs, winning league titles in odd-numbered years: 2011, 2013 and 2015. The T-Wolves, however, have only made the Western Conference Finals once, and are probably best known as the team Kevin Garnett and GM (and Minnesota native) Kevin McHale couldn’t get over the hump, before Garnett went to McHale's former team, the Boston Celtics.
Food. Considering that Minnesota is Big Ten Country, you would expect their basketball arena to have lots of good food, in particular that Midwest staple, the sausage. They don't disappoint. Delaware North runs the concessions.

District Dogs (hot dogs) and Corner Creamery stands are at each corner of the lower level of the arena. District Dogs can be found in the upper level at Sections 205, 209, 229, 233 and 237; Corner Creamery, at 209 and 233.

Big Red's BBQ is at 104, Eastside Grill at 109 and 211, Hoops & Hops (mostly bratwurst & beer) at 111, State Fare at 113, Loco Lobos (Mexican food) at 126, 133 and 213, Westside Grill at 129 and 231, Lotsa Mozza Pizza at 131, Full Court Press at 136, and Southside Grill at 225. (There is no Northside Grill.)

Team History Displays. As 1 of the NBA's 4 newest teams, you would expect the T-Wolves to not have many championship banners. There is 1, for the 2004 Midwest Division title. And the only photo of it I could find on the Internet came with photos of the WNBA banners won by the Lynx: The league titles of 2011, '13 and '15, and the conference title of 2012.
Nor could I find a picture of their retired number banner. They only have 1 of those, too, the Number 2 of forward Malik Sealy, whom some of you will remember from playing in New York, for Tolentine High School in The Bronx and St. John's University in Queens. He played for the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons, and was in his 1st season with the T-Wolves -- where Kevin Garnett was already wearing the Number 21 Sealy had worn throughout his career, so he switched to 2 -- when he was killed at age 30 by a drunk driver.
Presumably, when he retires as a player, Garnett's 21 will also go up in the rafters. It would also not surprise me to see a tribute of some kind to the late Flip Saunders, still the only coach to guide them into the Playoffs.

No player who has ever played for the T-Wolves has yet been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, although Kevin McHale was already in it for what he did as a Boston Celtics player while he was their head coach and general manager. Nor did they have anyone chosen for the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players in 1996.

Lynx player Katie Smith, now an assistant coach for the New York Liberty, was chosen for the WNBA's 15th Anniversary 15 Greatest Players in 2012. She, Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen were named to the WNBA Top 20 at 20 in 2016 -- in the 20th Season, rather than at the 20th Anniversary.

Stuff. The Timberwolves and Lynx Pro Shop is on the Skyway Level of the Target Center. You can find the usual team stuff there.

As a relatively new teams (among NBA teams, only the Toronto Raptors, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Charlotte Bobcats/new Hornets were founded more recently), there aren't many books about the Timberwolves. Pete Birle wrote their entry in the NBA's On the Hardwood series in 2013 and Nate LeBoutillier their entry in The NBA: A History of Hoops in 2015. No titles, no luck when it comes to team videos: Anything you could find on Garnett would probably focus on his Celtics days.

During the Game. Because of their Midwest/Heartland image, Timberwolves like a “family atmosphere.” Therefore, while they don’t like the Chicago Bulls or the Milwaukee Bucks (regional rivals) or the Los Angeles Lakers (the former Minneapolis team, stolen from them), they don't have any special animus for the Knicks or the Nets.

The T-Wolves hold auditions to sing the National Anthem, as opposed to having a regular singer. A group called Power Surge recorded a theme song for them, "Roll With It" (not to be confused with the Steve Winwood song of the same title). Their mascot is Crunch the Wolf. He was named NBA Mascot of the Year in 2012. He wears Number 00 and, like the Phoenix Gorilla and some other NBA mascosts, performs stunt dunks.
And I thought canines had good hearing.

After the Game. Minneapolis and St. Paul's are fairly safe as cities go. As long as you don't go out of your way to antagonize anybody, you should be all right as you make your way out of the arena and back to your car, or to your hotel.

If you're looking for a postgame meal, or just a pint, Hubert's Sports Bar & Grill, named for Minnesota's most famous politician, is in the arena. The most famous Minnesota sports bar, Stub & Herb's, has been parked on the University of Minnesota campus at 227 SE Oak Street, on the corner of Washington, since 1939, when UM football was not only good, but great. Stadium Village on light rail.

O'Donovan's Irish Pub, in Minneapolis at 700 1st Avenue North at 7th St., right across from the arena, and is said to cater to football Giants fans. Kieran's Irish Pub is at 85 N. 6th Street, a block from the arena. Cowboy Jack's is at 126 N. 5th Street, and many others are within a 2-block walk. Jet fans are said to go to the Lyndale Tap House, at 2937 Lyndale Avenue South, but that's 2 1/2 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis. Number 4 bus.

Another restaurant that may be of interest to New York baseball fans is Charley's Grill. It was popular among visiting players from other American Association cities when they came to play the Millers and the Saints. Legend has it that, when the Yankees gathered for spring training in 1961, they were trying to figure out which restaurants in the new American League cities were good, and someone who'd recently played for the Denver Bears mentioned Charley's. But Yogi Berra, who'd gone there when the Yanks' top farm team was the Kansas City Blues, said, "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

(That Yogi said the line is almost certainly true, but the restaurant in question was almost certainly Ruggiero's, a place in his native St. Louis at which he and his neighbor Joe Garagiola waited tables as teenagers.)

Well, someone must still be going there, because it's still open, described as a "warm dining room & patio with Midwestern cuisine at the Depot Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel." Downtown, at 225 3rd Avenue South at 2nd Street.

If you visit Minnesota during the European soccer season, as we are now in, Nomad World Pub has been voted the State's best "football pub." 501 Cedar Avenue, in West Bank, about a mile and a half east of downtown. Bus 22 from Nicollet Mall. Brit's Pub is at 1110 Nicollet Mall, and may also be to your liking.

Sidelights. Minnesota’s sports history is long, but very uneven. Teams have been born, moved in, moved around, and even moved out. But there are some local sites worth checking out.

* U.S. Bank Stadium and site of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Home of the Twins from 1982 to 2009, the University of Minnesota football team from 1982 to 2008, the NFL's Vikings from 1982 to 2013, and the Timberwolves in their 1st season, 1989-90 -- they got over 46,000 fans in there for a game -- that infamous blizzard and roof collapse in 2010 brought the desire to get out and build a new stadium for the Vikes to the front burner, and it finally led to action. Until then, there were threats that the Vikes would move, the most-mentioned possible destinations being Los Angeles and San Antonio.
Yes, basketball was played in that stupid stadium.
Judging by the colors of the court,
this looks like a University of Minnesota game.

The Twins won the 1987 and 1991 World Series at the Metrodome – going 8-0 in World Series games in the Dome, and 0-6 in Series games outside of it. The Vikings, on the other hand, were just 6-4 in home Playoff games there – including an overtime defeat in the 1998 NFC Championship Game after going 14-2 in the regular season.

From October 19, 1991 to April 6, 1992, the Metrodome hosted 3 major events in less than 6 months: The World Series (Twins over Atlanta Braves), Super Bowl XXVI (Washington Redskins over Buffalo Bills), and the NCAA Final Four (Duke beating Michigan in the Final). It also hosted the Final Four in 2001 (Duke won that one, too, over Arizona).

In May 2012, faced with the serious possibility of the Vikings moving without getting a suitable stadium, the Minnesota State legislature approved funding for a new stadium for the Vikings, to be built on the site of the Metrodome and on adjoining land.

In a piece of poetic justice, just as the damn thing was (with considerable ballyhoo) built and completed ahead of schedule and under budget, so did the demolition take place. The people of Minnesota seemed to be proud of its having been built on the cheap and on time, but it served its purpose, to keep the Twins and Vikings from moving for a generation, and now replacement stadiums are achieving the same purpose.

Billy Martin, who hated the place, had the best word on it, though the awkward wording of it may have been inspired in part by his pal Yogi Berra: "It's a shame a great guy like HHH had to be named after it." (Billy's first managing job was with the Twins, at the Met in 1969.)

U.S. Bank Stadium is now open, and the Vikings continued the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry by beating the Green Bay Packers in its 1st regular season game. Last August 3, it hosted a preseason tour soccer match in which Chelsea beat AC Milan 3-1. It will host Super Bowl LII in February 2018, and the 2019 NCAA Final Four. 900 South 5th Street at Centennial (Kirby Puckett) Place. Metrodome station on Light Rail.

* Target Field. Home of the Twins since 2010, it gives Minnesota's baseball team its 1st true ballpark after a half-century of waiting, rather than the Bloomington ice tray and the Homerdome. The official address is 1 Twins Way, along 3rd Avenue N., between 5th and 7th Streets. It has its own stop on the light rail system.

* Mall of America and sites of Metropolitan Stadium and the Metropolitan Sports Center. In contrast to their performance at the Metrodome, the Vikings were far more successful at their first home, while the Twins were not (in each case, playing there from 1961 to 1981).

The Vikings reached 4 Super Bowls while playing at The Met, while the Twins won Games 1, 2 and 6 of the 1965 World Series there, but lost Game 7 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a shutout by Sandy Koufax. (So the Twins are 11-1 all-time in World Series home games, but 0-9 on the road.) The Vikings were far more formidable in their ice tray of a stadium, which had no protection from the sun and nothing to block an Arctic blast of wind.

In fact, the Met had one deck along the 3rd base stands and in the right field bleachers, two decks from 1st base to right field and in the left field bleachers, and three decks behind home plate. Somebody once said the stadium looked like an Erector set that a kid was putting together, before his mother called him away to dinner and he never finished it. At 45,919 seats, it had a capacity that was just fine for baseball; but at 48,446, it was too small for the NFL.

Prior to the 1961 arrivals of the Twins and Vikings, the Met hosted the Minneapolis Millers from 1956 to 1960, and 5 NFL games over the same stretch, including 4 “home games” for the Packers. (Viking fans may be sickened over that, but at least University of Minnesota fans can take heart in the University of Wisconsin never having played there.)

The experiments worked: The Met, built equidistant from the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul, in the southern suburb of Bloomington, was awarded the MLB and NFL teams, and Midway Stadium, built in 1957 as the new home of the St. Paul Saints (at 1000 N. Snelling Avenue in the city of St. Paul, also roughly equidistant from the two downtowns), struck out, and was used as a practice field by the Vikings before being demolished in 1981.

The NHL’s Minnesota North Stars played at the adjoining Metropolitan Sports Center (or Met Center) from 1967 to 1993, before they were moved to become the Dallas Stars by owner Norm Green, earning him the nickname Norm Greed. The Stars reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1981 and 1991, but never won the Cup until 1999 when they were in Dallas.

The Beatles played at Metropolitan Stadium on August 21, 1965 -- making 1 of only 3 facilities to host an All-Star Game, a Finals and a Beatles concert in the same year. (The others were the Boston Garden and Maple Leaf Gardens in 1964.) Elvis Presley sang at the Met Center on November 5, 1971 and October 17, 1976.

8000 Cedar Avenue South, at 80th Street -- near the airport, although legends of planes being an issue, as with Shea Stadium and Citi Field, seem to be absent. A street named Killebrew Drive, and the original location of home plate, have been preserved. A 45-minute ride on the Number 55 light rail (MOA station).

* Site of Nicollet Park. Home of the Millers from 1912 to 1955, it was one of the most historic minor-league parks, home to Ted Williams and Willie Mays before they reached the majors. With the Met nearing completion, its last game was Game 7 of the 1955 Junior World Series, in which the Millers beat the International League Champion Rochester Red Wings.

A few early NFL games were played there in the 1920s, including home games by a team a team known as the Minneapolis Marines and the Minneapolis Red Jackets. A bank is now on the site. Nicollet and Blaisdell Avenues, 30th and 31st Streets. Number 465 bus.

* Site of Lexington Park. Home of the Saints from 1897 to 1956, it wasn’t nearly as well regarded, although it did close with a Saints win over the arch-rival Millers. The site is now occupied by retail outlets. Lexington Parkway, University Avenue, Fuller & Dunlap Streets.

* Xcel Energy Center. Home to the NHL's Wild since it opened in 2000, it is also a veritable home and hall of fame for hockey in Minnesota, the most hockey-mad State in the Union, including the State high school championships that were previously held at the St. Paul Civic Center, which stood on the same site from 1973 to 1998.

That arena hosted the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association from 1973 to 1977. The Fighting Saints had played their first few home games, in late 1972, at the St. Paul Auditorium. Elvis sang at the Civic Center on October 2 and 3, 1974, and April 30, 1977. The Civic Center is also where Bruce Springsteen and Courteney Cox filmed the video for Bruce's song "Dancing In the Dark."

"The X" hosted the 2008 Republican Convention that nominated John McCain for President and Sarah Palin for Vice President. She probably loved the hockey part, but, unlike Mary Richards, she can only turn on a small part of the world with her smile, and she's not gonna make it after all. (The GOP met in Minneapolis in 1892, renominating President Benjamin Harrison at the Industrial Exposition Building at 101 Central Avenue SE. It was torn down in 1940, and condos are on the site now.)

The Frozen Four was held at the Civic Center in 1989, 1991 and 1994. It has been held at the Xcel in 2002 and 2011, and will be again in 2018.

199 W. Kellogg Blvd., at W. 7th Street, is in downtown St. Paul, about 9 miles from downtown Minneapolis. The Number 94 bus goes straight there from downtown Minneapolis, in about 25 minutes. The Green Line light rail goes from Nicollet Mall to St. Paul Central Station. From there, it's a 15-minute walk to the arena. Total travel time: About 40 minutes.

The arena is the westernmost part of the RiverCentre complex, which includes the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, the Saint Paul RiverCentre and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. The Wilkins, formerly the St. Paul Auditorium, was built in 1932. On May 13, 1956, early in his career, Elvis Presley sang there in the afternoon, and at the Minneapolis Auditorium in the evening.

* University of Minnesota. Coming from downtown, you would take the Green Line light rail to Stadium Village stop to reach the UM campus. TCF Bank Stadium, home of the Golden Gophers and, for the last 2 seasons, the Vikings is at 420 SE 23rd Avenue.

The stadium opened in 2009, allowing the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers to play home games on campus as they did at Memorial Stadium from 1924 to 1981. Their alumni were sick of playing in the cold, so when the Metrodome opened for the Twins and Vikings in 1982, they wanted in (figuratively and literally). But, even during winning seasons (which have been few and far between since the 1960s), attendance was lousy. So an on-campus facility was built.

Before moving in for the 2014 and '15 seasons, the Vikings played a home game there in 2010, following a snow-caused collapse of the Metrodome roof. The Vikings lost to the Chicago Bears, and it turned out to be Brett Favre's last NFL game. It's also hosted an outdoor game for UM hockey, and this coming February 21, it will play host to the Wild against the Chicago Blackhawks. It hosted a match between soccer teams Manchester City of England and Olympiacos of Athens, Greece.

Across Oak Street from the open west end of the stadium are the basketball and hockey venues. Williams Arena opened in 1928, and has hosted UM basketball ever since, UM hockey from then until 1993, and the 1951 NCAA Final Four (Kentucky over Kansas State). It hosted the hockey equivalent, the Frozen Four, in 1958 and 1966.

Mariucci Arena opened in 1993, and has hosted UM hockey ever since. Memorial Stadium was across University Avenue from Williams Arena. The UM alumni center and swimming venue were built on the site.

* Site of Minneapolis Auditorium. Built in 1927, from 1947 to 1960 this was the home of the Minneapolis Lakers – and, as Minnesota is "the Land of 10,000 Lakes" (11,842, to be exact), now you know why a team in Los Angeles is named the Lakers. (The old Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden said his team and the Lakers should switch names, due to L.A.'s "West Coast jazz" scene and the Great Salt Lake: "Los Angeles Jazz" and "Utah Lakers" would both make more sense than their current names.)
The Lakers won the National Basketball League Championship in 1948, then moved into the NBA and won the Championship in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954. In fact, until the Celtics overtook them in 1963, the Minneapolis Lakers were the most successful team in NBA history, and have still won more World Championships than all the other Minnesota major league teams combined: Lakers 5, Twins 2, the rest a total of 0. (Unless you count the Lynx, who make it Lakers 5, everybody else 5.)

They were led by their enormous (for the time, 6-foot-10, 270-pound) center, the bespectacled (that’s right, he wore glasses, not goggles, on the court) Number 99, George Mikan. The arrival of the 24-second shot clock for the 1954-55 season pretty much ended their run, although rookie Elgin Baylor did help them reach the Finals again in 1959.

Elvis sang there early in his career, on May 13, 1956, as his evening show after his matinee in St. Paul. The Auditorium was demolished in 1989, and the Minneapolis Convention Center was built on the site. 1301 2nd Ave. South, at 12th Street. Within walking distance of Target Field, Target Center and the Metrodome.

* Minneapolis Armory. Built in 1936 for the Minnesota National Guard, the Lakers used it as their home court part-time throughout their Minneapolis tenure, and full-time in their final season in Minneapolis, 1959-60. Ironically, the owner of the Lakers who moved them to Los Angeles was Bob Short – who later moved the "new" Washington Senators, the team established to replace the team that moved to become the Twins.
It was later the video-filming site for Minneapolis native Prince's "1999" and Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." It's been kept standing as a parking lot. 500 6th Street, downtown.

* Minnesota United. Originally NSC Minnesota and then the Minnesota Stars, this team began play in 2010, and, except for the occasional game moved to the Metrodome for more seats, has played its home games at a 10,000-seat stadium at the National Sports Center in Blaine, about 15 miles north of downtown Minneapolis. 1700 105th Avenue NE at Davenport Street NE. Hard to reach by public transportation: You'll need at least 2 buses, and to then walk a mile and a half.

The team has been promoted from the new North American Soccer League to Major League Soccer, and will begin play in the 2018 season. Opening in time for that season (they hope) will be a new 20,000-seat, soccer-specific stadium, in St. Paul, at about 400 N. Snelling Avenue, at the intersection of St. Anthony Avenue, just off I-94/U.S. 12/U.S. 52, about a mile and a half south of the site of old Midway Stadium. Green Line light rail to Snelling Avenue.

UPDATE: Minnesota United instead negotiated a deal to play at TCF Bank Stadium until their soccer-specific stadium was ready.

Until MUFC (same initials as Manchester United Football Club, hopefully with less cheating) get underway, the closest MLS franchise to the Twin Cities will be the Chicago Fire, 416 miles away.

* Duluth. Minnesota's largest city outside the Twin Cities region is 155 miles to the northeast, at the western edge of Lake Superior. It was home to the State's 1st NFL team. They played the 1923, '24 and '25 team as the Duluth Kelleys, because they were sponsored by the Kelley-Duluth Hardware Store. They played the 1926 and '27 season as the Duluth Eskimos, and featured Hall-of-Famers Ernie Nevers and John "Johnny Blood" McNally.

They played at Athletic Park, which opened in 1903 and served as home of the minor-league Duluth White Sox from 1903 to 1916, and the Duluth Dukes from 1934 to 1940. It seated 6,000, and was replaced by the 4,2000-seat Wade Stadium on the same site in 1941. That was home to the Dukes until 1970, to a new Duluth-Superior Dukes from 1993 to 2002, and to the Duluth Huskies since 2003. In their various leagues, the Dukes/Huskies won Pennants in 1937, 1956, 1961, 1963, 1969, 1970 and 1997. 101 N. 35th Avenue West, about 3 miles southwest of downtown.

The 6,764-seat Duluth Entertainment Center hosted the hockey team at the University of Minnesota at Duluth from 1966 to 2010, one of the better hockey programs (if not as accomplished as their cousins down in Minneapolis). It also hosted the Frozen Four in 1968 and 1981, and Elvis on October 16, 1976 and April 29, 1977. The 6,726-seat Amsoil Arena -- smaller, but much more convenient -- was built next-door in 2010, and UMD moved in. Both are downtown and have an address of 350 Harbor Drive.

* Museums. The Twin Cities are very artsy, and have their share of museums, including one of the five most-visited modern art museums in the country, the Walker Art Center, at 1750 Hennepin Avenue. Number 4, 6, 12 or 25 bus. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is at 2400 3rd Avenue South. Number 17 bus, then walk 2 blocks east on 24th Street. The Science Museum of Minnesota is at 120 W. Kellogg Blvd. in St. Paul, across from the Xcel Center.

Fort Snelling, originally Fort Saint Anthony, was established by the U.S. Army in 1819, where the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers meet, to guard the Upper Midwest. It served as an Army post until World War II. It is now a museum, with historical demonstrations based on its entire history, from the post-War of 1812 period to the Civil War, from the Indian Wars to the World Wars. 101 Lakeview Avenue in St. Paul, across from the airport. An hour's ride on the Blue light rail.

Minnesota is famous for Presidential candidates that don't win. Governor Harold Stassen failed to get the Republican nomination in 1948, and then ran several more times, becoming, pardon the choice of words, a running joke. Senator Eugene McCarthy opposed Lyndon Johnson in the Democratic Primaries in 1968, but lost his momentum when Robert Kennedy got into the race and LBJ got out, then ran in 1976 as a 3rd-party candidate and got 1 percent of the popular vote.

Vice President Walter Mondale was the Democratic nominee in 1984, losing every State but
Minnesota in his loss to Ronald Reagan. In the 2012 election cycle, the moderate former Governor Tim Pawlenty and the completely batty Congresswoman Michele Bachmann ran, and neither got anywhere.

Most notable is Hubert Horatio Humphrey. Elected Mayor of Minneapolis in 1945 and 1947, he became known for fighting organized crime, which put a price on his head, a price it was unable to pay off.  In 1948, while running for the U.S. Senate, he gave a speech at the Democratic Convention, supporting a civil rights plank in the party platform, a movement which culminated in his guiding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through the Senate as Majority Whip. He ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1960, but lost to John F. Kennedy, then was elected LBJ’s Vice President in 1964.

He won the nomination in 1968, but lost to Richard Nixon by a hair. He returned to the Senate in 1970, and ran for President again in 1972, but lost the nomination to George McGovern. He might have run again in 1976 had his health not failed, as cancer killed him in 1978 at age 66. His wife Muriel briefly held his Senate seat.

Not having been President (he's come closer than any other Minnesotan ever has), he has no Presidential Library, but there is the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, 301 19th Avenue South, only a short walk from the Dome that would be named for him. Hubert and Muriel are laid to rest in Lakewood Cemetery, 3600 Hennepin Avenue. Number 6 bus. Minneapolis Lakers great George Mikan is also buried there.

The tallest building in Minnesota is the IDS Center, at 80 South 8th Street at Marquette Avenue, rising 792 feet high. The tallest in the State outside Minneapolis is Wells Fargo Place, at 30 East 7th Street at Cedar Street in St. Paul, 472 feet.

Nicollet Mall is a pedestrians-only shopping center that stretches from 2nd to 13th Streets downtown. At 7th Street, in front of Macy's, in roughly the same location that Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards threw her hat in the air in the opening to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, is a statue of "Mare" doing that. It was the 1st in a series of statues commissioned by TV Land that now includes Jackie Gleason in his Ralph Kramden bus driver's uniform outside Port Authority, Henry Winkler (a statue known as The Bronze Fonz) in Milwaukee, Bob Newhart in Chicago, Andy Griffith and Ron Howard with their fishing poles in Raleigh, Elizabeth Montgomery in Salem, Massachusetts and Elvis in Honolulu. However, the show had no location shots in Minneapolis, aside from the iconic opening montage.

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Little House On the Prairie, and now Orphan Black were set in Minnesota, although not shot there. The sitcom Coach, which aired on ABC from 1989 to 1996, was set at Minnesota State University. At the time, there was not a real college with that name. But in 1999, Mankato State University was renamed Minnesota State University, Mankato; and in 2000, Moorhead State University became Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

The University of Minnesota was originally a model for the school on the show, but withdrew its support: Although some game action clearly shows the maroon and gold of the Golden Gophers, the uniforms shown in most scenes were light purple and gold. In one Season 1 episode, the Gophers are specifically mentioned as one of the Screaming Eagles' opponents, suggesting that Minnesota State might have been in the Big Ten. Show creator Barry Kemp is a graduate of the University of Iowa -- like Wisconsin, a major rival of the Gophers -- and most of the exterior shots you see of the campus were filmed there. In addition, the main character, Hayden Fox, was named after then-Iowa coach Hayden Fry. No scenes were actually shot in Minnesota, not even Hayden's oft-snowy lake house.

Movies filmed in Minnesota include the baseball films Little Big League and Major League: Back to the Minors, the George Clooney 1920s football film LeatherheadsThe Bishop's Wife (1947, later remade as The Preacher's Wife), Airport (the 1970 film that helped inspire the decade's disaster film craze), the Western The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid, the Grumpy Old Men movies, Kevin Smith's MallratsJuno, and, most memorably due to its use of the Minnesota accent, the Coen Brothers' Fargo (which now has a TV version shot there).

St. Paul is the capital of the State of Minnesota. The Capitol Building is at University Avenue and Capital Blvd. It's a half-hour ride from downtown on the Number 94 bus (named because most of its route is on I-94).


Bob Wood, a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and a graduate of Michigan State University, wrote a pair of sports travel guides: Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks, about his 1985 trip to all 26 stadiums then in MLB; and Big Ten Country, about his 1988 trip to all the Big Ten campuses and stadiums. (Penn State, Nebraska, and new members Rutgers and Maryland were not yet in the league).

The Metrodome was the only stadium that featured in both books, although if either were updated to reflect current reality, it would feature in neither. In Big Ten Country, Wood said, “Now, don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like Minneapolis. How can you not like Minneapolis?... No, Minneapolis is lovely. It’s the Metrodome that sucks!”

From what I understand, Minneapolis and St. Paul are still terrific cities, including for sports. A Knicks or Nets fan should definitely take in a game against the Timberwolves there.

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