Thursday, June 7, 2007

Alright, hold tight--I'm a Highway Star...

Time once again to put the ol’ blog on hiatus for a bit whilst I do a little road trip. I’m heading to Memphis in the meantime lookin' for the Cadillac with Tennessee plates, not to mention hanging out with Elvis on Saturday, then visiting a new destination for me on Sunday, the capitol of Country Music (and Tennessee), Nashville. I might return home Monday night, or if I’m having a really good time, I’ll be home sometime Tuesday.

I'll give your regards to Charlie Daniels and/or John Hiatt if I should bump into either of them...

Adios, amigos!

"They Died Young"--Volume III

'80s/'90s THROW-AWAYS
It just amazes me how multi-million dollar projects like sports arenas can become irrelevant or outdated so quickly in this day and age.  What was once deemed "state-of-the-art" is already obsolete in many cases, and it’s incredible how some indoor sports venues become so useless so rapidly.  Here’s a look at a few examples:

There was a time when Miami had trouble attracting indoor sports franchises because the city didn’t have a suitable arena to play in.  Now, they have too many!  Miami Arena opened in 1988 as the home of the NBA's Miami Heat and Univ. of Miami basketball teams, and later served as the first home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers.  Nice arena, but with two major flaws:  1) it had no luxury suites (a curse that has befallen more than a few sports arenas before their time), and 2) it sits on the edge of a really bad neighborhood.  By the late ‘90s, both pro teams built separate new arenas—the Heat moved about three blocks down the street by the bay and the Panthers moved up to Broward County to an arena that's already had three different corporate names since it opened in 1998.  The U. of M. stayed on at Miami Arena for a while, but they opened their own place on campus in 2003 and the "Pink Elephant" has been shuttered and mostly likely is doomed to be demolished soon.

This gargantuan arena, once known as "The Hive", also opened in 1988 and was home of the expansion Charlotte Hornets of the NBA, and was also considered a premier venue for NCAA Tournament games, including the 1994 Final Four.  The Coliseum got off to a rocky start too, as its huge eight-sided main scoreboard broke loose and crashed to the floor the day after it opened in '88.  In spite of holding nearly 23,000 fans, the Coliseum was done in by the same tactical error that closed Miami Arena—no luxury suites.  That, combined with a dickhead owner (George Shinn), caused the Hornets to bolt for New Orleans in 2002.  The NBA quickly granted Charlotte a new franchise, the Bobcats, who played their first season in 2004-05 at the Coliseum until their fancy new downtown digs opened, and the Coliseum closed for good later in 2005 and was demolished just last weekend.  One would think you could get at least 20 years out of a new arena these days…

One of the more clever arena designs ever conceived is The Pyramid in Memphis.  They figured since their namesake city in Egypt had pyramids, why couldn’t they?  This beautiful glass and steel structure is the 3rd-largest pyramid in the world and opened in 1991 as home of the U. of Memphis basketball team, as well as concerts and tractor pulls, et al.  That ol’ no-suites bugaboo struck here too, and when the Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA moved to town, it was contingent upon building a new suite-laden downtown arena, thus the FexEx Forum was put up right next to the Beale Street entertainment district.  Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band closed out The Pyramid with a concert on February 3rd of this year, and now the building awaits its fate, although it may be spared the wrecking ball because the city still owes a shitload of money on it—Dick Clark might call it the "$33 Million Pyramid".  There is talk of converting it into a Bass Pro Shops outdoorsman emporium or perhaps a casino or aquarium.  Worse comes to worse, they could always turn the place into a Super Mega Hooters...


This phenomenon of going through sports arenas like used cars isn’t confined to the ‘80s and ‘90s, either—several ‘70s venues barely even lasted 25 years.

The funky-looking Omni in Atlanta with its waffle iron-like roof was home to the dreaded Hawks of the NBA and the expansion Flames of the NHL when it opened in ’72.  It even hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1977, but Atlanta sports fans have this aversion to supporting losing teams, and the Flames bolted to Calgary in 1980, while the Hawks labored in mediocrity for nearly two decades (except during their halcyon days with Dominique Wilkins and Spud Webb).  The Omni decayed rapidly over that time, and Atlanta managed to snag a new NHL team, the Thrashers, so a new arena was needed.  Nextdoor neighbor CNN aired The Omni’s implosion live on July 26, 1997 and Philips Arena was built on the site.

The Capital Centre in suburban Landover, MD outside Washington, DC opened a year after The Omni, and lured the NBA’s Bullets out of Baltimore, as well as the expansion Capitals of the NHL, and also served as home to the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team.  The Cap Centre, with it’s distinctive saddle-shaped roof, was the first indoor sports arena to employ video replay screens, but was not well-regarded by fans because of its dark and depressing seating area (except during concerts when it was supposed to be dark anyway).  Perhaps the most famous event at the Cap Centre was the OT marathon in Game 7 of the 1987 NHL playoffs between the Caps and the New York Islanders where Pat LaFontaine of the Isles poked in the game-winner at 8:47 of the 4th overtime.  By the mid ‘90s, the place showed its age too, and was replaced in 1997 by the "Insert-cellphone-company-name-here" Center in DC, just a few blocks from the White House.  The Cap Centre sat vacant for five years and was imploded on December 15, 2002.

Denver’s McNichols Sports Arena was a rather nondescript flat white arena built into a hillside nextdoor to Mile High Stadium that opened in 1975.  It was home of the ABA/NBA Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Rockies (not to be confused with the baseball team of the same name) from 1976-82, several minor league hockey teams in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and finally the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, who won the Stanley Cup in their first season in Denver in 1995-96.  Quite possibly "Big Mac"'s biggest claim to fame happened in 1976 during the old American Basketball Association's All-Star Game festivities, which featured one of the first slam dunk competitions ever held, where Julius "Dr. J." Erving electrified the crowd with an unforgettable running slam dunk for which he became airborne literally at the free throw line.  The NBA soon copied this event for their own All-Star weekend events.  But, just like its fellow '70s-era arena brethren, McNichols had very few extra amenities and fell to the wrecking ball in the summer of 1999 to make room for more parking for the Denver Broncos' new stadium, while the Nuggets and Avs moved about a mile away to the new Pepsi Center on the edge of downtown.

What I find really ironic about the above three venues is that the arenas they were built to replace are still standing and still in use.  Atlanta's Alexander Memorial Coliseum is still home to Georgia Tech basketball, Baltimore Civic Arena (now known as First Mariner Center) still houses indoor soccer's Baltimore Blast, and Denver Coliseum, former home of the Nuggets, still hosts small concerts, rodeos and circuses on a regular basis.

Current events and such

Big story in K.C. and around the country the last few days has been the Kelsey Smith abduction and murder.  Very tragic indeed, and my condolences go out to her friends and family, and it’s a shame there wasn’t a happy ending here.  But, I’m at least glad that her body was found relatively quickly and that this didn’t turn into another one of those protracted ordeals with the nightly news updates like the Natalee Holloway thing that the media gets a hold of simply because a pretty white girl was the victim.  Don't mean to be insensitive here, but couldn't you just see ol’ Greta Van Susterererern chomping at the bit, wanting to make this case her own personal cause and solve the mystery?  Do you think this story would have garnered as much media coverage if Kelsey Smith was an ugly black, Hispanic or Asian girl?  Hell, no—the media wouldn’t have given two shits about her (probably not even one shit).  Once again, what should have remained a local story got picked up by the national networks and they milked it for ratings.  Thanks to them, we have probably been given every little detail about this girl’s life, right down to her shoe size as well as her bra size, but what about all the other victims of this same kind of crime—how come all those other discarded souls out there don’t get equal time?  We viewers are just as guilty when it comes this kind of hypocrisy too (me included)—this kind of thing happens every day in this country, but only when the affluent, attractive ones are the victims do we seem to give a damn.

I also love how all the radio talk show people and TV news people suddenly morph into armchair police detectives and experts on crime and parking lot security when something like this happens.  I heard this idiot radio hostess this morning saying, "That girl should have fought and kicked and scratched to get away from this guy..." (or words to that effect).  Don’t you think she tried all that, but was unable to?  And then there was that know-it-all Nancy Grace bitch on CNN last night commenting on the "person of interest" in the security camera video (before he was arrested):  "Don’t you think this person would have come forward by now to let the authorities know that he WASN’T the guy who did this?"  Duhhhh, because he probably IS the one WHO DID IT, numb-nuts!  Dammit, what I wouldn't give for Homey The Clown to whop that woman over the head with his sock just once…

While I’m on media hypocrisy, could someone please explain to me one more time why I should give a good Goddamn about these no-talent drunken bimbos like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Nicole Richie going in and out of rehab and/or jail?  I must be a jaded old fuck, because I just don’t get why we (as a society) make celebrities out of these twits, much less obsess over their downfalls the way people do.  George Carlin was damn right:  "It’s a great country, but it’s a straaaange culture!"  Get a fucking life, America!!!

Congrats to my boy Scott Niedermayer and the Anaheim Ducks for winning the Stanley Cup last night!  He was always a favorite player of mine during his time with the New Jersey Devils and their three Stanley Cup wins, and was very instrumental in my own fantasy hockey championship this season, so it was great to not only see him hoist the Cup as the Mighty Quacks’ captain, but also to see him win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff M.V.P.  Now that the hockey season is over, there will be a spike in razor and shaving cream sales as the players shed their "playoff beards".

The NHL also needs to address their abysmally low TV ratings for the finals, where they were getting drubbed nightly by "Dukes of Hazzard" reruns (I think that episode with the car chase in it was on last night).  Hell, even test patterns were outdrawing hockey this week.  No doubt the 2004-05 labor dispute/lockout has a lot to do with people tuning out, but it’s still a great game, and I hope they turn things around soon.  One thing they’ve gotta do is get on a more prominent TV network, and for Pete's sake, shorten the damn playoffs!  It takes two full months to do four playoff rounds, and if the Finals had gone the distance, they would have played Game 7 next Monday.  Even though I love hockey to death, it’s nuckin’ futs that they’re still playing in June.  Hockey is a winter sport—they should either start the regular season earlier or shorten it, play doubleheaders, whatever—anything to ensure the playoffs end by Memorial Day, at the latest…

There also may be some merit to what others have suggested that there are too many teams in the NHL, thus diluting the talent pool and caliber of play.  Contraction might not be such a bad thing in this case—do we really need two teams in L.A.?  Three teams in the New York area?  Two in Florida?  Do we really need the Phoenix Coyotes at all?  Something to think about…

The Trent Green/Chiefs soap opera finally came to an end this week, as they finally worked out a trade with the Miami Dolphins.  Hate to see him go, but it’s time.  He had a great run here, but his best days are behind him as a player, and the Chiefs need to move on and I really think Green should retire—he’s one more concussion away from being a vegetable.  Trent's crazy if he thinks he's going to play another 3-4 years, but hey, more power to him if he does...

"The Beat Goes On"—SONNY & CHER (1967)
"Charleston was once a rage, uh-huh…" Sonny sang it like he was saying something about Charo, the singer, not Charleston, the '20s dance craze.  "Charo’s tits were once a rage, uh-huh..."  Would’ve fit right in long about 1973…

Seems that the Fred Phelps’ clan of Neanderthals was at it again this week, stirring up trouble while picketing another soldier’s funeral in Nebraska, for which Phelps’ sister/overzealous lawyer Shirley Phelps-Roper was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  Seems that her ten-year-old son was involved, standing/stomping on an American flag as part of their protest over our country’s alleged harboring of gay people.  "Every symbol of the rebellious, doomed America must necessarily be disrespected," Phelps-Roper said.  "We did our duty today to our God and fellow man.  Our job is to cause this nation to know her abomination.  The thing they worship, the flag, is worthless. It's a piece of cloth."

Okay, I'm hardly a flag-waver here, and I don't believe in all that symbolism crap, but this is pretty low-rent stuff, and I have a news flash for you, Shirl—there are homosexuals in every blasted country in the world!  And if y’all hate this country so damn much, then do the rest of us a big fucking favor and move to another country and do your protesting there, preferably somewhere in the Middle East.  I swear, these weirdos mystify me—it's as if they live just to spread hate and ugliness, and I can't help but wonder—what's in it for them?  I also can't help but wonder why any heterosexual man who can see clearly would fuck this woman even once!  I think I'd rather be queer than sleep with that ugly bitch...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

It's STILL Rock 'N' Roll to me...

One of the coolest things about Rock ‘N’ Roll is it has the power to overcome the bullshit that even its own creators sometimes put forth and make you forget all about their pettiness, stupidity, arrogance, politics, etc., and it makes you remember what drew you to them in the first place.  For me, Ted Nugent is Exhibit A of that phenomenon.  As much as I’ve grown to dispise him these last few years for the things he’s said and what he represents to me now, I have to say that his music still stands up (most of it, anyway) after tracking through it this week.  I can't think of any other person I've ever been a major fan of who I've completely turned on like I have with Nugent (although Gene Simmons is pushing his luck with me, big-time), but even though he’s a complete dickhead to me now, this man was once my Rock ‘N’ Roll idol, and now I remember why…

The "Motor City Madman" first came to fame as a member of Detroit’s Amboy Dukes, one of the first American hard Rock bands to emerge in the late ‘60s, who were best known for the classic "Journey To The Center of The Mind", as well as a primal remake of Joe Williams’ "Baby, Please Don’t Go" (later a Nugent concert staple).  The early lineup of the group clashed with Nugent’s anti-drug stance and most of them were replaced by the early ‘70s and Nugent added his name to the band’s official name.  The best album from the Amboy Dukes era was the final one, 1974’s Tooth, Fang & Claw, which featured the classic "Great White Buffalo" and a manic version of Chuck Berry’s "Maybelline".

Ted went solo (if you want to call it that—he still had a steady band) in 1975, and began working with singer-guitarist Derek St. Holmes on the eponymous Ted Nugent album, featuring the classic "Stranglehold" as well as "Hey Baby", which wound up being a fairly sizeable hit, and still gets regular airplay today on the radio and is also a bar-band standard.  St. Holmes’ smooth vocals combined with Nugent’s guitar playing was a formidable combination on tracks like "Stormtroopin’", "Just What The Doctor Ordered" and the hidden gem "Queen of The Forest", but Ted’s ego couldn’t handle having another member of his band—especially a good-looking one that female fans were partial to—stealing any of the spotlight from him, so for 1976’s Free-For-All, he brought in the then-unknown Meat Loaf to sing on several tracks just a year before he got really big (both literally and figuratively).  Even with his diminished role, St. Holmes still sang on standout tracks "Dog Eat Dog" and a personal favorite of mine, "Turn It Up".

The high point of Nugent’s career is 1977-78, as by that time he was selling out arenas and stadiums across the land on the strength of the Cat Scratch Fever LP.  The title track even made the Top 40 (at the height of the disco era, no less), and the album included the classic "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang", as well as three grossly underrated Nugent songs, "Sweet Sally", "Out of Control" and the instrumental "Home Bound".  Double Live Gonzo! followed in ’78 and documented Nugent in concert quite well, featuring a good mix of old and new songs (including "Yank Me, Crank Me" and "Gonzo"), but curiously, nothing from Free-For-All.  The album is worth it alone for Nugent’s stage raps—"Anybody wants to get mellow, you can turn around and get the fuck outta here!"; "This guitar can blow the balls of a charging rhino at 60 paces…"; "This is a love song—I wanna dedicate this to all that Nashville pussy…" (hence the band named Nashville Pussy).  Gonzo! was Nugent’s finest hour, in my opinion, and probably my second-favorite live album of all-time behind Kiss Alive!.

(Yes, I know, Alive! was loaded with overdubs and wasn’t totally live, but Kiss ain’t the only major band guilty of this practice--Cheap Trick At Budokan wasn’t all live either, nor was Frampton Comes Alive, and I have my suspicions that neither of W.A.S.P’s "live" albums were truly live at all! But I digress…)

Derek St. Holmes left Nugent to form Whitford-St. Holmes with Brad Whitford of Aerosmith during that band’s temporary disintegration in the late ‘70s, and Ted replaced him with singer-guitarist Charlie Huhn.  Huhn’s a decent singer, but he didn’t command near as much attention from the fans as St. Holmes did—just the way Nugent wanted it—but still, the next couple albums weren’t too shabby.  Although Weekend Warriors wasn’t chuck-full of hits, it was a very solid effort with great tunes like "Need You Bad", "I Got The Feelin’", "Cruisin'" and the title track.  State of Shock followed in 1979 with Nugent branching out a little by including a ballad called "Alone" (sung by Huhn) about his divorce from his wife Sandra (who later was killed while driving drunk in 1982) and a terrific cover version of George Harrison’s underrated Beatles tune "I Want To Tell You".  The album’s opening track, "Paralyzed", featured Ted playing with his wah-wah (pedal), and "Snake Charmer", "Bite Down Hard" were both standout tracks.  Then things began to unravel…

Nugent stumbled into the ‘80s with Scream Dream, an album I really liked at the time, but one that hasn’t aged well with me over the years, particularly because of sophomoric songs like "Wango Tango" and "Terminus Eldorado".  The wheels came off altogether in 1981 with the release of Intensities In 10 Cities, a live album that featured ten new tracks, each recorded in a different city while on tour.  As if the contrived album title wasn’t bad enough, the songs were even worse with bullshit macho bravado like "My Love Is Like A Tire Iron", "Spontaneous Combustion", "The Flying Lip Lock" and a really lame version of Wilson Pickett’s "Land of 1000 Dances" (which is a lame song to begin with, IMHO).  "Terrible Ted" was living up to his nickname here—that album was just abysmal!

Nugent’s career hit rock bottom with Intensities, and he never has fully recovered from it.  Long about that same time, Epic Records dropped him like a bad habit, and Ted also went bankrupt (blaming other people he had hired for it, rather than looking in the mirror first), but just when everyone was about to write him off, he made a nice little comeback after resurfacing on Atlantic Records with 1982’s Nugent album, and oh, what a coincidence—Derek St. Holmes was back!  Suddenly, the songwriting and vocals improved and the record was pretty solid, featuring songs like "Good And Ready", "Fightin’ Words" and "Bound And Gagged", Nugent’s reaction to the Iran hostage crisis that he sang with great gusto, back when his psuedo-patriotism actually seemed sincere.  Unfortunately, the reunion with St. Holmes was short-lived, and Nugent slid backwards with 1984’s Penetrator, featuring singer Brian Howe (who later joined Bad Company) and most of Billy Squier’s band, plus something I never thought I’d hear on a Ted Nugent record (gulp!)—synthesizers!  Little Miss Dangerous in 1986 was pretty lackluster too, and Nuge bottomed-out again in 1988 on the uninspired If You Can’t Lick ‘Em…Lick ‘Em, with Ted handling all the vocals himself.  Surprisingly, the result was downright dull—a rare description for any Nugent record.  The only halfway-decent track on that album was "That’s The Story Of Love", for which Nugent needed an assist from Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora just to reach mediocrity.

Then came the Damn Yankees era, which gave Ted a perfect excuse to abandon his own career for a while and play with two guys from bands he used to term "wimpy"—Tommy Shaw of Styx and Jack Blades of Night Ranger.  The two DY albums were highly successful, but Nugent's contribution to them is barely noticeable at times—they could have just as easily brought in Neal Schon of Journey or Craig Chaquico of Jefferson Starship and those albums would have sold just as well because the material was more of a draw than Nugent's name.  After recently watching a Damn Yankees concert video on VH-1 Classic, it really hit me how out-of-place the Rev. Theodosius Atrocious looked with this band—sorta like if David Lee Roth joined Toto or something...

Nugent somehow managed to re-emerge in 1995 with his best album in years, Spirit of The Wild, and wouldn’t you know it, Derek St. Holmes was back again!  Anyone notice a pattern here?  The album went largely unnoticed, but I thought it was a damn good record with St. Holmes’ vocals standing out on "Heart And Soul" and the title track.  It also included a song Nugent originally recorded in 1989 for some wildlife cause called "Fred Bear".  Even though I couldn’t give a monkey’s spleen about hunting, I still think it’s a cool song all the same.  Spirit also contains what has become a Nugent concert staple, "Kiss My Ass", replete with its role call of people who chafe Ted’s hiney—the Clintons, Janet Reno, Howard Stern, liberals, et al.  I simply substitute Dubya, Cheney, Geraldo, Bill O’Reilly, Barry Bonds, etc., when I sing along to it and the song works just dandy!

Sadly, we haven’t heard much musically from Sweaty Teddy since then, just a lot of radical right wing vitriol and bigotry, but I’ve been through that already (see my December entry "Fallen Idols").  I do have one new little point about Ted that I previously omitted:  if Nugent is so gung-ho about the military and defending his country, then where was he during the Vietnam War?  Oh, that’s right—his tour of duty then was with the Amboy Dukes, not the Armed Services…

My all-time Ted Nugent Top 10:
1) "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" [Live] (1978)
2) "Stormtroopin'" [Live] (1978)
3) "Turn It Up" (1976)
4) "Great White Buffalo" [Live] (1978)
5) "Motor City Madhouse" [Live] (1978)
6) "Just What The Doctor Ordered" (1975)
7) "Kiss My Ass" (1995)
8) "Bound And Gagged" (1982)
9) "Free-For-All" (1976)
10) "Home Bound" (1977)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

"They Died Young"--Volume II

Metropolitan Stadium/Met Sports Center--Bloomington, MN
The Twin Cities almost overnight became Major League in 1961 as the Washington Senators of the American League moved there and became the Twins, and the expansion Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League began play that year.  Both teams called Metropolitan Stadium their home for the next 20 years.  The stadium was only about five years old, having been built in the mid-50's as a minor league baseball park, and it rose up like a huge erector set over the prairie on the southern reaches of the metro area, just across the highway from the Twin Cities' main airport.  "The Met" was hardly the prettiest ballpark ever built, but the fans loved the place warts and all, and the stadium went from minor league status to hosting the World Series in less than ten years.

Met Stadium was initially a triple-deck grandstand that basically hugged the baseball infield, but it went through numerous expansions throughout its history to accomodate both the Twins and the Vikings that gave the stadium an odd, patchy quality about it that was both a blessing and a curse—blessing in that it gave the place a certain home-y charm, curse in that poor planning wound up being the stadium's downfall eventually.  Compared with modern-day stadiums, the Met was very substandard in many ways—too few bathrooms, narrow concourses, only a handful of concession stands throughout the park and "temporary" seating areas that wound up being permanent, plus traffic after games was a total nightmare some nights.  The stadium was also poorly-maintained over time, and at one point near the end of the park's tenure, the third deck behind home plate had to be closed-off because it had become unsafe.

Still, the stadium had plenty of moments in the sun, thanks to fielding two fairly competitive tenants.  The fans took to both the Twins and Vikings almost right away, as the Twins had stars like slugger Harmon Killebrew, pitcher Jim Kaat and outfielder Tony Oliva, and the Vikings had QB Fran Tarkenton and their famed "Purple People Eater" defense.  The Twins made the World Series in just their fifth season in Minnesota in 1965, falling to Sandy Koufax and the L.A. Dodgers, and the Vikings were a consistent playoff team in the NFL, and played in their first Super Bowl against the Chiefs after the '69 season.  Outdoor soccer also thrived there in the '70s with the NASL's Minnesota Kicks, and in spite of the often-brutal weather conditions for Vikings games at The Met, the fans turned out in droves, and also pioneered the art of tailgating before and after games, even in the dead of winter.
Meantime, just across the parking lot, Metropolitan Sports Center opened in 1967, served as the Twin Cities' main indoor sporting venue for many years, including as the home of the NHL's expansion Minnesota North Stars.  Met Center was a no-frills arena, but was well-liked by both players and fans for its superior ice surface and great sightlines and atmosphere.  Its color scheme in the seating area was distinctive with randomly colored seats in the North Stars' green, gold and white, but on game nights you couldn't see it anyway, since all 15,000 seats were filled most of the time.  Unfortunately, by the '90s, the North Stars' owner demanded a new arena, and despite continued support from the fans of Minnesota and a Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1991, douche-bag owner Norman Green packed up the team anyway and moved them to Dallas for the 1993-94 season.  Why the team couldn't have just moved to the perfectly good new Target Center in Minneapolis (which opened in 1990) is a mystery to me.  Either way, the Met Center's fate was sealed and it never even made it to the age of 30, and was demolished in 1994.  Ironically, when they tried to implode the place, it defiantly refused to fall and they wound up razing the arena the old-fashioned way.

Met Stadium, on the other hand, more or less fell apart on its own, and the Vikings were especially vocal about wanting a new stadium by the late '70s, since the Met was then one of the smaller stadiums in the NFL.  Renovation of The Met was not an option in their eyes, and when it was all said and done, both teams moved indoors downtown to that scourge of stadium construction, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, in 1982.  While the Twins have thrived there at times, winning the World Series in 1987 and 1991, the Vikings never have been quite the same team, exchanging their mystique as the tough team that battled the snow and cold for a rather wimpy persona playing in a cushy environment.  Ironically, in their final games at the Met in 1981, both the Twins and Vikings lost to Kansas City's Royals and Chiefs, respectively.  Following that last Vikings game, fans stormed the field and tried to dismantle the stadium themselves and were fairly successful at it.  Thus, Metropolitan Stadium was a mere youngster at age 25 when it closed, having served as a Major League stadium for only 20 years.  After standing dormant and decaying rapidly (see left), Met Stadium was officially demolished in 1985 to make way for the mighty Mall of America, where they marked in bronze the location of home plate on the floor of the mall's indoor amusement park.

I never got to see the stadium in person, although the arena was still in use during a visit to Bloomington in 1985, but I have vivid memories of watching games from the Met on TV back in the '70s.  Every time the Royals played the Twins on TV, I could swear that Rod Carew always led off the game with a freakin' base hit!  The Royals could never get that bastard out, even though they were the superior team at that time.  And because of our close proximity to the Twin Cities, we got more than a few Vikings games on TV on NFL Sundays, to the point where I was rather sick of looking at Fran Tarkenton after a while.  There is an outstanding website that chronicles both the rise and decline of Met Stadium, as well as many fan recollections thereof.  The photos taken after the decaying stadium closed are especially interesting.

Things are also looking up in Twins Country too, as construction has begun on their new open-air ballpark which will open in 2010 right nextdoor to Target Center on the west side of Minneapolis.  This will right what has been a major wrong since 1982—it's an absolute crime to be playing baseball indoors on such beautiful summer evenings like they have in the upper Midwest!  As for the Vikings, they're still dilly-dallying around about a new stadium, although the latest idea has them moving in with the U. of Minnesota when their new on-campus stadium is built in a couple years until they can tear down the Metrodome and put up a new stadium with a retractable roof on the site.  I have a better idea—why not just rip the bubble dome off the Metrodome, enlarge the existing stadium and put a retractable roof on it?  Probably would be cheaper and serve the team just as well.