I’m taking a break this week from writing about area athletes to share a few memories of the Metrodome, which is currently being dismantled in downtown Minneapolis.
Besides attending occasional Twins or Vikings games as a fan since the facility opened in 1982, I was fortunate to cover dozens of events inside the Dome from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s as sports writer for the Brainerd Dispatch.
I remember covering Games 6 and 7 of both the 1987 and 1991 World Series in the Dome. I faced the deadline pressure on a Saturday night Game 6 against the Cardinals in 1987. I had just agreed to transmit my story without a final score because the game was in extra innings, and the pressmen and the route drivers were waiting. Suddenly, Kirby Puckett homered and my story was complete. The next night, the Twins clinched their first World Series title. I was busy with interviews for almost two hours after the game, and when I walked outside the celebration was still going on outside the Dome.
I also covered the Home Run Derby from a dugout view during the 1985 All-Star Game in the Dome, and the NCAA Midwest Regional men’s college basketball tournament in 1989. Those were fun events, but some of my favorite memories came in football.
Two of my football memories involved Pequot Lakes football coach Chip Lohmiller, who played in the Dome as a kicker for the University of Minnesota and later the Washington Redskins.
I was among the media covering the Super Bowl in 1992 when Lohmiller kicked two late field goals to clinch Washington’s 37-24 victory over Buffalo in the Dome. The next season, I interviewed Lohmilller after he kicked five field goals in the Redskins’ 15-13 win over the Vikings in the Dome.
“I have mixed emotions,” Lohmiller said on Monday. “I have a lot of memories there. I played four years for the Gophers in the Dome, played in the Super Bowl, and played against the Vikings a few times. So it’s sad to see it go, but I know it’s older, and it’s time to move on and rebuild it to meet the standards of the NFL.”
Lohmiller had another connection to the Metrodome as his late grandfather, James “Red” McLeod, was the halftime music coordinator for the Vikings for 25 years. He also arranged the “Skol Vikings” song that is still used by the team today.
“Because of my grandfather, I was able to spend a lot of time down by the field when I was in elementary school and in junior high,” Lohmiller said. “Then in college, I spent a lot of extra time at the Dome practicing my kicking. So I have spent a lot of time at the Dome.”
Is Lohmiller planning to acquire anything from the Metrodome?
“I’m getting a couple chairs,” he said. “I’m also in the process of getting my corner locker that I had when I played for the Gophers. I also used that same locker for the Super Bowl and whenever I played against the Vikings.”
People have always had various opinions of the quality of the Metrodome, but we can all agree there were plenty of memorable moments under its roof.