Obscure Sports Stops: Remnants of Metropolitan Stadium
Metropolitan Stadium, often referred to as “the Met,” was built in suburban Bloomington, MN, just outside of the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It served as home to both Major League Baseball’s Twins and the National Football League’s Vikings from 1961-1981. Replaced by the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, the old ballpark lives on thanks to the presence of a pair of mementos of the old park in a decidedly unexpected location.
The Met opened on April 24, 1956, in an attempt to lure a Major League Baseball team to the Twin Cities area. The location in Bloomington was chosen as it was equidistant to both downtowns and it was thought that would be the best location for a ballpark. After discussions with several Major League teams, it was announced that the Washington Senators would move to Minnesota for the 1961 season.
The American Football League announced they were placing a team in Metropolitan Stadium for their inaugural 1960 season. However, the NFL was able to persuade the team’s owners to withdraw from the AFL and join the NFL for the 1961 season.
Despite improvements and expansion to the facility, it was never considered to be an ideal home for either the Twins or Vikings. The limited capacity and physical deterioration of the Met led to calls for a new stadium to be built for Minnesota’s teams. Both the Twins and Vikings moved to downtown Minneapolis and the Metrodome in 1982.
Metropolitan Stadium Home Plate, Photo by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Today the Mall of America stands on the site of Metropolitan Stadium. More specifically, the Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park now occupies the spot where major league baseball and football were once played. There are two reminders of the site’s former usage within this amusement park. While dodging the overstimulated youngsters running around Nickelodeon Universe, head to the entrance to the SpongeBob Square Pants Rock Bottom Plunge. There sits a home plate from the Met in its original location. If you are like me, you’ll immediately take your place on either side of home plate and get into your batter’s stance.
Harmon Killebrew Tribute Chair at Mall of America, Photo by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
If you lookout in the direction of left field, you may be able to see another piece of The Met that has been preserved all these years (there’s a ton of stuff in the way, so this may require some movement to properly view it). Once you get a clear view of the far wall, look up and you will see a red chair mounted on the wall. This chair marks the landing spot of the longest home run ever hit at the ballpark; a 522-foot moon shot launched by Harmon Killebrew off of California Angels pitcher Lew Burdette on June 3, 1967. The seat is located at its original distance from home plate and height off the ground. If you are having trouble locating the seat, look above the log flume chute.
Killebrew is also honored with the naming of the street Killebrew Drive, which runs along the southern edge of the mall, parallel to where the third baseline would have been located at the Met.
For those baseball fans who enjoy incorporating historic baseball sites into their stadium journeys, a trip to the most certainly un-historic Mall of America will be worth your time.