Mementos to be salvaged as Metrodome is set to retire

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Minnesota Vikings
A view of the inside of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome during the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 25, 2012 in Minneapolis. The stadium opened in 1982 and has since lived up to its nickname as Minnesota's "rec room."
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

There have been monster trucks.

There have been monster hits, like Kirby Puckett's game-winning home run in the 1991 World Series.

And there have been big plays, like Brett Favre's Hail Mary pass to the back of the end zone against the 49ers in 2009.

Those are just some of the better memories from Metrodome era. The stadium with the Teflon-coated fiberglass ceiling opened in 1982 and has since lived up to its nickname as Minnesota's "rec room."

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Recent memories of sporting events there haven't been quite so fond. With an injured quarterback, a record of 2 wins and 7 losses, the playoffs and a post-season seem all but out of reach for the Minnesota Vikings this year. That means demolition could start on their stadium within weeks.

That has fans, officials and historians wondering what to keep from the Metrodome.

Some of the most important history is already gone.

When the Twins left for Target Field in 2009, they took their home plate, a pitching rubber and the outfield seat where Puckett's home landed.

The Minnesota Historical Society has been collecting memories virtually since the place opened in 1983.

"Probably the most important World Series piece we have from the '87 series is the Frankie 'Sweet Music' Viola banner that hung over the right field bleachers," said Adam Scher, a curator for the society.

But he said the Metrodome isn't famous just for sports.

"One of the most important and unique features is the roof, which has had a storied past," Scher said. That includes the roof's collapse in 2010 after a blizzard deflated it.

But the roof is noteworthy for more than just its prime-time football "fail."

"The Metrodome was one of the first, I think after the Silverdome in Michigan, to have that kind of roof that was sustained through air pressure," Scher said? "So it really is a unique building architecturally, so we are interested in having a portion of the roof."

For many fans, the stands also hold some nostalgia.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority has received hundreds of requests for pieces of them - and for many other Metrodome features.

"We're just keeping lists of the hundreds of groups and organization, and schools and community groups that want, primarily seats, and some equipment, and turf, pieces of turf," said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. "We're going to come out with a process."

That may include routing some of the items through the state's existing surplus property auction.

New roof on dome
The new roof of the Metrodome is shown after it was inflated for the first time Wednesday, July 13, 2011 in Minneapolis. The stadium is set to be retired on Dec. 29.
AP Photo/Jim Mone

But it isn't clear how practical it will be to salvage the seats.

For one thing, they only have one arm rest each. The seats also aren't self supporting, because they're bolted to vertical surfaces in the Metrodome's bowl. Not being able to sit in them once they're removed may give would-be collectors second thoughts about bringing them home.

Stadium officials also aren't sure how much it will cost to keep seats intact. They say hiring a demolition contractor to remove them -- rather than wreck them -- could be cost prohibitive, particularly as stadium builders are already cutting corners to keep the new stadium under its $988 million budget.

Still, parts of the Metrodome will likely survive the demolition in downtown Minneapolis.

The Vikings are planning a Hall of Legends for the new stadium that likely will be incorporated into the concourses, team spokesman Jeff Anderson said. The hall would include some items from the Metrodome.

"We're currently taking inventory of items, both from a functional perspective as well as from a memorabilia perspective," Anderson said. "You know, are there any things that we could use inside a new stadium, or are there keepsakes we want to include within that Vikings Hall of Legends, some lockers or seats, some of those items that will have long term meaning to our fans or to the organization?"

They won't have much time to think about it, though. Barring a miraculous finish in the Vikings remaining seven games, Minnesota will be done with Metrodome in just 45 more days.