The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which opened in 1982, is financially self-supporting. It is the only public stadium in the country that does not rely on a continuing tax subsidy to finance operations, maintenance or debt payments. The Metrodome is owned andoperated by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC), which was established by the Minnesota Legislature in 1977. Its original purpose was to act as a nonpartisan body in selecting a site for a new stadium that would serve the long-term interests of the metropolitan area. Although many interests competed for the stadium's location, in the end it was a metro wide and statewide cooperation that got the stadium built.
Built it was, at a cost of $68 million, the Metrodome is covered by more than 10 acres of Teflon-coated fiberglass. It is the only air-supported dome, and fans enter the park through revolving doors that prevent release of the air that keeps the dome upright. The roof requires 250,000 cubic feet of air pressure per minute to remain inflated, and on at least three occasions slight tears caused by heavy snows have caused the roof to deflate. The right-field wall is 23feet tall and covered with plastic. Called "the Big Blue Baggy" and "Heft Bag" by baseball players, the plastic-coated fence hides 7,600 retractable seats that are used when the stadium is in its football configuration.
Despite seats angled for the best football watching, the Metrodome recently has become a somewhat annoying place to watch a game - even for football fans. That's because the huge color replay scoreboards show commercials at least as often as they show replays. And with theroof holding the volume in, the ads are very loud. That might be one big reason that attendance has declined steadily over the last decade, despite the team's success.
Former Bears coach Mike Ditka often criticized the stadium, helping the Metrodome get in the news regularly. He once called it a big livestock hall, and the Vikings responded by putting huge fake cows and other animals on the field. When he called it the "Rollerdome", the Vikings had all their cheerleaders wear in-lineskates. The Vikings miss Ditka."
The area to the right of the Vikings bench was self-proclaimed by the fans as Thor's Thunder Zone. It got its name from the Minnesota Vikings Fans electronic mailing list onthe Internet, that's us.
The idea began with one Viking Fan, Brian K. Maas of Plymouth, Minn., who proudly uses the nick name "Mr. Cheer or Die." In mid-August, Maas wrote a note to his fellow Internet Viking Fans suggesting they name the end zone section in which he and other rabid Viking fans have season tickets. Hundreds of e-mail responses later, Maas chose the name Thor's Thunder Zone, submitted by Tom Grier, a Viking Fan who lives in Fountain City, Wis. Another Internet Viking Fan,Michael O'Keefe, a native born Minnesotan now living in Milwaukee, Wis., suggested the group also use "horns of thunder" to build some of the deafening noise the Metrodome is now famous for.
While some suggested that special horns of thunder could be manufactured, sponsored and sold or given away to other fans for profit, Maas' intentions in this project are pure.
"I want the visiting offense dreading the thought of driving into my endzone," Maas wrote in an Internet posting. "Iwant them practicing the week before with speakers blaring at their field. I want them thinking about which endzone to defend if they win the toss. One mental error because of fan noise could win a game for the Vikes. That is what this is all about. ... just (make) NOISE Baby!"