Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How to Be a Yankee Fan In Minnesota -- 2017 Edition

Starting next Monday, the Yankees play the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis.

By a weird twist, on the day that my twin nieces were born, 10 summers ago, the Yankees were playing, you guessed it, the Twins. The Yankees won. Nevertheless, the girls have become Yankee Fans.

I've tried to teach them the irony of it all, but, personally, I have nothing against the Minnesota ballclub. I used to, because of the (George Carlin word)ing Metrodome. But that is no longer a factor.

I know, I sometimes curse on this page, but these "How to Be a Yankee/New York Fan In…" pages are meant to be family-friendly.

Before You Go. It's a little soon to post the weather forecast, but, since the Twins do not play in the Metrodome anymore, you should consult the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press websites for their forecasts. Seeing as how this will be mid-July, the legend of cold Minnesota winters that last from October to early May will not apply in this series.

However, the weather will be an issue. For once, Minnesota is projected to be hot, with temperatures in the low 90s in daylight, low 70s at night. Thunderstorms are predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday morning. However, despite no longer playing under a dome, the games should not be affected.

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

Tickets. The Twins' success of the 2000s (but not, as yet, the 2010s) and the building of Target Field led to an average per-game attendance of 39,112 in 2011, pretty much a sellout every night, in spite of their not having a very good season (mainly due to injuries). But the novelty of the new park has worn off, and they're averaging 24,106 so far this season, about 62 percent of capacity. So getting tickets shouldn't be a big problem. Still, I advise getting them ahead of time.

The Twins use "demand-based pricing." For games against the Yankees, and for regional rivals like the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox, prices are higher because the demand is greater. Here are the listings for the Yankee games: Diamond Box, $77; Field Box, $59; Home Plate Terrace, $44; Home Plate View, $34; Field Terrace, $46; LF Bleachers (the U.S. Bank Home Run Porch), $33; RF Bleachers (Grandstand), $24; Skyline View, $23; Field View, $21.

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), and 1,204 miles from Yankee Stadium to Target Field. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

But it's kind of an expensive flight. Even if you order early, chances are you'll have to pay between $900 and $1,000 for a nonstop round-trip flight from Newark to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. But when you do 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 $424 round-trip, although it can be dropped to $356 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 arena, and from there just across the 7th Street overpass over Interstate 394 from Target Field.

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 at Union Depot in St. Paul (not Minneapolis) at 10:03 PM -- after the game would end, unless there's a lot of overtime. From there, 214 4th Street E., you'd have to take the Light Rail Green Line to downtown Minneapolis. And it's $386 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 233A being your exit 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. The Twins' original ballpark, Metropolitan Stadium, was in the suburb of Bloomington, on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi River, but roughly equidistant from the downtowns of both Minneapolis and St. Paul. (Or as close as could have been hoped for: Minneapolis' City Hall is 10 miles even away from the site, and St. Paul's is 11.6 miles.) The team is called "Minnesota," because they didn't want to slight either city. It is called the "Twins" because Minneapolis and St. Paul are the "Twin Cities."
The State House in St. Paul

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, and 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 16th 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 (and now, all 5 if you count MLS) that's smaller. The market is 20th in population in MLB, 18th in the NFL, and 17th in the NBA, the NHL and MLS. And, despite being the smaller city, St. Paul is the State capital.

"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, and, of course, 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.

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, these papers are nicknamed the Strib and the Pi Press.

The sales tax in the State of Minnesota is 6.875 percent. It's 7.775 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. Interstates 494 and 694 are the Twin Cities' "beltway."

Going In. Target Field opened in 2010, at the northwest edge of downtown Minneapolis, in a neighborhood called the Warehouse District. The Metro Transit Hiawatha Line, Minneapolis' light rail system, has a Target Field Station.

Target Field is bounded by 5th Street (left field), 3rd Avenue (right field), 7th Street (1st base) and the Hiawatha Line (3rd base). Parking lots are all over downtown, although if you've driven all this way, most likely you'll be staying at a hotel and walking or taking public transit from there. The official address is 1 Twins Way.

If you're walking from downtown, you'll most likely be arriving over the I-394 overpass and entering at the right field or home plate gates. If you're arriving by light rail, the station is outside the left field gate. If you're driving, parking is between $10 and $15, depending on the event.
The gates are numbered in honor of the men whose numbers had already been retired when the ballpark opened: Center field, Gate 3, Harmon Killebrew; Left field, Gate 6, Tony Oliva; Home plate, Gate 14, Kent Hrbek; Right field corner, Gate 29, Rod Carew; and another in right field, Gate 34, Kirby Puckett. Gate 29 has Target Plaza, with statues of those players, and also of former owners Calvin Griffith, and Carl and Eloise Pohlad, parents of current owner Jim Pohlad.  The Twins' team Hall of Fame display is also there.

The ballpark faces northeast, and, in stark contrast to the Metrodome, it is open at right field, has no stupid roof with stupid lighting, and has, yes, real grass. If you are old enough to remember Metropolitan Stadium, the double-decked left field bleachers will be reminiscent of that stadium, but, from some angles, Target Field will also bear a resemblance to Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and the old Mile High Stadium in Denver (if you remember the baseball configurations of those stadiums).
Looking at the 1st base/right field stands, you may see a resemblance to Camden Yards in Baltimore. Target Field does seem to have a mixture of 1970s funkiness (which, aside from round entrance ramps, was rarely incorporated into the designs of the ballparks in use in that decade) and 1990s-to-the-present convenience.

Outfield distances are 339 to left, 377 to left-center, 411 to center, 365 to right center and 328 to right – favoring lefthanded hitters, although the ball doesn't fly out of the yard the way it did at Metropolitan Stadium or the Metrodome.
In its brief history, the longest home run hit at Target is a 490-footer by Jim Thome in 2011. Ben Oglivie of the Milwaukee Brewers hit the longest at the Metrodome, 481 feet, on July 27, 1983. The longest at The Met, as you might guess, was by Harmon Killebrew, 525 feet on June 3, 1967. The seat that it hit was painted, and is preserved at the Mall of America, at roughly its original location.

Above center field is a sign saying "TARGET FIELD," with the words separated by the Target store logo. Above that is the original team logo, with two ballplayers against an outline of the state. One is wearing an M logo on his sleeve, another an StP logo on his, and they're reaching across a river to shake hands. Their names are, with absolutely no originality, Minnie and Paul.
This symbolizes the old minor-league teams in the American Association, the Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints, who went out of business when the original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961.

In 2010, Target Field's 1st season, ESPN The Magazine ranked it was the Number 1 baseball stadium experience in North America. It has also hosted concerts. Last June 25, Minnesota United played a "friendly" (exhibition game) there, losing 4-2 to Mexican team Club Leon.

Food. Considering that Minnesota is Big Ten Country, you would expect their ballpark to have lots of good food, in particular that Midwest staple, the sausage, including German, Italian, Polish and Kosher varieties. Fortunately, you would be right, as the influence of regional rivals Chicago and Milwaukee has taken hold. Something called Kramarczuk's Food Network Creations is at Section 114 (lower level behind home plate), and Mexican and Asian specialties also dot the walkways.

At Section 133 (right-center-field bleachers), they have "State Fair Classics" -- the State Fair, held from late August to Labor Day, in the small town of Falcon Heights, between the Twin Cities, is a very big deal in the Gopher State, known as "The Great Minnesota Get-Together." These "classics" include Pork Chops on a Stick, Roasted Corn on the Cob, Corn Dogs, and Walleye Fingers – think a fish version of "chicken fingers." It's not something I would eat, but walleyes, a native fish, are very popular in Minnesota. The start of walleye fishing season, usually around May 10, is so big there, the Twins always request to be on the road that weekend, so as not to hurt attendance.

Being American, the Twins believe in ice cream, and lots of it. Being Midwestern, the Twins believe in beer, and lots of it. In their early days, the Twins heavily identified with Hamm's Brewery, which was headquartered in St. Paul. Hamm's has since been bought out by MillerCoors, although the brand is still sold in the Upper Midwest.

A recent Thrillist article on the best food at each MLB stadium mentions the Kramarczuk sausages, but dismisses them in favor of the indurrito, an "Indian burrito," available at Hot Spice at Section 120. What happens if you combine Minnesota cold with this hot Indian burrito? It reminds me of something the 1940s Brooklyn Dodger 2nd baseman Eddie Stanky said during his managing days: "If I stick one foot in an ice tray and the other food in a hot oven, according to a statistician, I should feel fine."

Team History Displays. An unfortunate part of the Twins' legacy is the fact that, when Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith, who would never have moved the team, died in 1955, his son Calvin Griffith wanted out of the increasingly-black D.C. At a Lions Club dinner in 1978, he freely admitted that he moved the Twins to Minnesota because it was mostly white. So the Twins exist primarily because of racism – albeit that of just one man.

The Twins are now in their 2nd half-century of play, so they certainly have some history. They have banners representing their titles atop the left field bleachers: Red with blue numbers for their 1987 and 1991 World Championships; white with red numbers for their 1965 American League Pennant; and white with blue numbers for their Division Championships (in the AL West in 1969 and 1970, and in the AL Central in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010). The Twins have never reached the Playoffs via the Wild Card.
No mention is made of the titles won as "the old Washington Senators": The 1924 World Championship and the 1925 and 1933 AL Pennants. Nor is any mention made of the American Association Pennants won by the Millers (1896, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1915, 1932, 1935, 1955, 1958 and 1959) and the Saints (1924 and 1948).

The Twins' retired numbers are shown in stanchions on the facing of the upper deck in left field: 3, Harmon Killebrew, 3rd base & 1st base, 1961-74; 6, Tony Oliva, right field, 1962-76 and serving the club in several capacities since; 10, Tom Kelly, 1st baseman 1975, manager 1986-2001; 14, Kent Hrbek, 1st base, 1981-94; 28, Bert Blyleven, pitcher, 1970-76 and 1985-88; 29, Rod Carew, 2nd base and 1st base, 1967-78; and 34, Kirby Puckett, center field, 1984-95 -- plus Jackie Robinson's universally-retired 42.

Oddly, the numbers are listed in order of their retirement from right to left, as opposed to left to right (or numerically), so that, from left to right, they read: 42, 10, 28, 34, 14, 6, 29, 3. Killebrew (who died in 2011), Oliva, Carew, Hrbek, and Kirby Puckett Jr., standing in for his father, threw out the ceremonial first balls for the first game at the new park on April 12, 2010.
The retired numbers, shown shortly after Killebrew's death,
with his Number 3 covered with a black ribbon

As stated, the Twins' team Hall of Fame is outside the park at Gate 29, with the statues. The 30 members are:

* From the 1965-70 teams: Killebrew, Oliva, Carew, catcher Earl Battey, shortstop Zoilo Versalles, left fielder Bob Allison, and pitchers Camilo Pascual, Jim Kaat and Jim Perry.

* From the 1987 & ’91 teams: Kelly, Blyleven, Hrbek, Puckett, shortstop Greg Gagne, 3rd baseman Gary Gaetti, pitchers Frank Viola and Rick Aguilera; and general manager Andy MacPhail.

* From the 2000s: Pitchers Brad Radke and Eddie Guardado, and outfielders Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer.

* Spanning the eras: Founding owner Calvin Griffith, original team executive George Brophy, broadcasters Herb Carneal (who is in the Baseball Hall of Fame) and John Gordon, owner Carl Pohlad, minor-league director Jim Rantz, media relations director Tom Mee, and public address announcer Bob Casey.

No mention is made of Millers legends Joe Cantillon, Joe Hauser, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Monte Irvin, Ray Dandridge, Hoyt Wilhelm, Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou and Carl Yastrzemski. (The Millers were a Red Sox farm team, then the Giants, then the Red Sox again.) Or of Saints legends Duke Snider and Roy Campanella. (The Saints were a Dodger farm team.)

Or of men who actually played for this franchise as the Washington Senators, aside from those who moved with the team and were members of the 1965 Pennant winners. In 1933, the 1st All-Star Game was held. There were 2 players from the Senators/future Twins selected: Shortstop Joe Cronin and pitcher Alvin Crowder, nicknamed "General" after memories of Enoch Crowder, the U.S. Army General who ran the military draft in World War I.

In 1999, Killebrew, Carew and Puckett were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players. In 2006, Twins fans chose Puckett for the DHL Hometown Heroes poll.

Stuff. The Majestic Twins Clubhouse Store is located next to Gate 29. The usual items that can be found at a souvenir store can be found there.

Books about the Twins are not exactly well-known. The staff of the Star-Tribune put together Minnesota Twins: The Complete Illustrated History in 2010, to coincide with moving into the new ballpark. Stew Thornley published Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie in 2014Cool of the Evening: The 1965 Minnesota Twins is Jim Thielman's look at Minnesota's 1st major league Pennant winner. Bill Gutman, Dave Weiner and Tony Seidl wrote From Worst to First! The Improbable 1991 Seasons of the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins.

There is, as yet, no Essential Games of the Minnesota Twins, or of either Metropolitan Stadium or the Metrodome. But the official 1987 and 1991 World Series highlight film packages are available.

During the Game. A recent Thrillist article on "Baseball's Most Intolerable Fans" listed Twins fans as 22nd -- meaning 10th most tolerable. It calls Twins fans "a model of the on-the-surface Midwestern affability mixed with deeply buried resentments that permeates so much of the local culture." It calls the unlamented Metrodome "a cold and unfeeling dome," and Target Field "generally pretty nice but ultimately uninteresting -- hey, another good metaphor for Twins fans!"

This is a bit harsh, but, essentially, true. Because of their Midwest/Heartland image, Twins fans like a "family atmosphere." Therefore, while they don't especially like the Yankees, they will not directly antagonize you. You'll probably be all right if you don't say anything unkind about Killebrew or Puckett, especially now that they're both dead. I would also advise against saying anything complimentary about the Green Bay Packers, the University of Wisconsin, the Dallas Stars (the hockey team that used to be the Minnesota North Stars) or Norm Green (the owner who moved them).

Tuesday night will be Twins Beach Towel Night. Don't laugh: Minnesota may be far from any ocean, but it's "The Land of 10,000 Lakes," including, if you want to make the drive up to Duluth, Lake Superior. So there's plenty of places to go swimming. Wednesday is Schweigert Dollar-A-Dog Day: Hot dogs are just $1.00 at the Hennepin Grille and Taste of Twins Territory concession stands, but only the 1st 20,000 hot dogs, and a limit of 2 per person.

The Twins' mascot is TC Bear -- TC for Twin Cities, and it's probably a bear in honor of that once-familiar Minnesota mascot/TV pitchanimal, the Hamm's Bear.
The Twins hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular. They have a theme song, "We're Gonna Win, Twins!" After every Twins home run, they play "Let's Go Crazy," and were doing so even before the recent death of Minneapolis native Prince. Their postgame victory song is "It's a Beautiful Day" by U2.

They still sell the Homer Hankies made famous during their 1987 postseason run. They did not, however, originate the idea: In 1977, the Cleveland Indians, desperate for attendance, held "Hate the Yankees Hanky Night."

The Twins have "The Race at Target Field." It's a takeoff on the Milwaukee Brewers' Sausage Race, with 5 Minnesota-inspired characters: Louie the Loon (a bird, not a crazy man), Wanda the Walleye (a fish), Babe the Blue Ox (from the legend of Paul Bunyan), Skeeta the Mosquito (apparently they got him in a trade with the Houston Astros), and Bullseye the Dog (the mascot of Target, and apparently a descendant of former Bud Light pitchdog Spuds Mackenzie). But no revival of the Hamm's Bear.

After the Game. Being wedged in between a freeway and an industrial park means that Target Field isn't really in any neighborhood, much less a bad one. The good news is, this means your safety is not going to be an issue.

The bad news is, this means you may have a bit of a walk to get to a good place to get a postgame meal, or just a pint. At the very least, you'll have to take one of the overpasses over I-394 and cross 2nd Avenue. You might be better off getting on the light rail and heading back downtown.

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.

If you want to be around other New Yorkers, I have a listing for a place that seems to cater to football Giants fans: O'Donovan's Irish Pub, downtown at 700 1st Avenue North at 7th St. I have also been told that Lyndale Tap House is a hangout for Jets fans. 2937 Lyndale Avenue South, about 2 1/2 miles south of downtown. 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 NBA's Timberwolves in their debut season of 1989-90, it was named for the State's favorite son, Mayor of Minneapolis (1945-48), U.S. Senator from Minnesota (1949-64 & 1971-78), Vice President of the United States (1965-69), and Democratic nominee for President (1968, he also ran in 1960 and 1972).
The Twins won the 1987 and 1991 World Series there – 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 while playing there – including an infamous overtime defeat in the 1998 NFC Championship Game after going 14-2 in the regular season.
From October 1991 to April 1992, the Metrodome hosted 3 major events: 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).

But it was inadequate on multiple levels. It was bad for football (the great running back Billy Sims ended his career by landing on his knee on the artificial turf), and worse for baseball (the gray roof not only blotted out the sky, but made it hard to see fly balls). Billy Martin, whose 1st managing job was with the 1969 Twins, hated the place, and had the best word on it, though the awkward wording of it may have been inspired in part by his pal Yogi: "It's a shame a great guy like HHH had to be named after it."

A blizzard tore a hole in the roof in 2010, which brought the Vikings' desire to get out and build a new stadium to the front burner, and finally led to action. In May 2012, faced with the serious possibility of the Vikes moving if they didn't get a suitable stadium (Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Antonio, in descending order of likelihood, had been rumored as locations), the Minnesota State legislature approved funding for a new stadium, to be built on the site of the Metrodome and on adjoining land.

The damn thing was demolished, and, in a piece of poetic justice, just as it was 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.

The Vikings played at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014 and '15, and moved into U.S. Bank Stadium last September. 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.
* 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 1st 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.
Metropolitan Stadium was a typical 1950s stadium:
Functional, not interesting once the novelty wore off,
and too far from the city, designed for people with cars.

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 2 downtowns), struck out, and was used as a practice field by the Vikings before being demolished in 1981.
Midway Stadium was also a typical 1950s stadium.

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. Larry Holmes successfully defended the Heavyweight Championship of the World at the Met Center on July 7, 1980, knocking out Minnesota native Scott LeDoux.

The Beatles played at Metropolitan Stadium on August 21, 1965 -- making it 1 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.

The Mall of America opened on the site of the stadium in 1992, and remains the largest shopping mall in the United States. An IKEA was built on the site of the Met Center. 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), which, unfortunately, didn't open until after the stadium and the arena were gone.

* 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 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 and site of the St. Paul Civic Center. Home of the NHL's Minnesota Wild since their debut in 2000, and site of the 2008 Republican Convention that nominated John McCain for President and, yes, Sarah Palin for Vice President. (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 place is 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 Civic Center.

That building was the home of 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.

The Civic Center hosted the Frozen Four in 1989, 1991 and 1994. The Xcel has hosted it in 2002 and 2011, and will again in 2018.

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."

199 W. Kellogg Blvd., at W. 7th Street, 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.

* Target Center. Separated from Target Field by I-394 and 2nd Avenue, this arena has been home to the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves since 1990, after they played their debut season at the Metrodome.
The T-Wolves 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. The Minnesota Lynx also play here, and have won the WNBA Championship in 2011, 2013 and 2015. 600 N. 1st Avenue at 6th Street.

* 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. 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, 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 was promoted from the new North American Soccer League to Major League Soccer, and began play this season, at U.S. Bank Stadium, and will play the 2018 season there as well. For the 2019 season, they hope to open their as-yet-unnamed 19,916-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: It's been named Allianz Field.

* University of Minnesota. TCF Bank Stadium, the new home of the University of Minnesota football team, opened in 2009. It was designed to resemble a classic 1920s college football stadium, with a reddish-brown brick exterior and a horseshoe shape, much like the 56,000-seat Memorial Stadium, where the Golden Gophers played from 1924 to 1981, before the Metrodome was built.

Its capacity of 50,805 makes it the 2nd-smallest stadium in the Big Ten, ahead of only Northwestern's Ryan Field, but the Gophers' lack of success over the last 40 years or so has been overcome: They have regularly filled it.

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. The Vikings played a home game at "Old Memorial" in 1969, due to the Twins making the Playoffs that season, and having scheduling dibs on Metropolitan Stadium.

TCF Bank Stadium has also hosted an outdoor game for UM hockey, and on February 21, 2016, it played host to a 6-1 win by the Wild over the Chicago Blackhawks. It hosted a match between soccer teams Manchester City of England and Olympiacos of Athens, Greece.

The new stadium is at 2009 University Avenue SE, at 420 SE 23rd Avenue. Stadium Village stop on the light rail Green Line.

"Old Memorial" was a block away from where the new stadium now stands, on Walnut Street between University Avenue and Beacon Street. The Vikings played a home game there in 1969 due to the Twins making the Playoffs that season and having dibs on Metropolitan Stadium. The McNamara Alumni Center now stands on the site, and the arched entrance to Memorial has been preserved and stands inside.

The Gophers play their basketball games at Williams Arena, a classic old barn built in 1928, across Oak Street from the open west end of TCF Bank Stadium. It hosted the NCAA basketball championship, the Final Four, in 1951; and the hockey equivalent, the Frozen Four, in 1958 and 1966.

Across 4th Street from Williams is Mariucci Arena, home of the hockey team that has won National Championships in 1974, '76, '79, 2002 and '03. Named for John Mariucci, a member of the Chicago Blackhawks' 1938 Stanley Cup winners who coached the Gophers, the arena was built in 1993, after the team previously played hockey at Williams.

Legend has it that 4th Street is the "Positively 4th Street" used as the title of a song by former UM student Robert Zimmerman, a.k.a. Bob Dylan, although, as is often the case with Dylan songs, there is no mention of the title in the songs. Whether the "friend" who's "got a lot of nerve" was a fellow UM student, I don't know. It's also been suggested that the 4th Street in question is the one in New York's Greenwich Village.

* 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 B. 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.

The tallest building in Minnesota is the IDS Center, at 80 South 8th Street at Marquette Avenue, rising 792 feet high. The Foshay Tower, at 821 Marquette Avenue, was the previous tallest, from 1929 to 1973, 447 feet. 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 titles 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 outside Port Authority, Henry Winkler in Milwaukee, Bob Newhart in Chicago, Andy Griffith and Ron Howard in Raleigh, Elizabeth Montgomery in Salem, Massachusetts and Elvis in Honolulu. However, the show had no location shots in Minneapolis.

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 Leatherheads, The 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 soon-to-be 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!"

Thankfully, the Twins now play at Target Field, and, from what I understand, Minneapolis and St. Paul are still terrific cities, including for sports. A Yankee Fan should definitely take in a Yankees-Twins game there.

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