Thirty-two years ago today the Minnesota Vikings wrapped up their final game and a 20-year run at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. With just over a week left before the Metrodome closes for good, the team and local officials say they're determined this stadium will have a very different end.
That day, Dec. 20, 1981, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Vikings 10-6. Fans swarmed the field at the end to grab a bit of Met nostalgia.
Down went the goalposts. And the bleachers in the stands. And the loudspeakers in the endzone. And pieces of the scoreboard. And just about anything else that wasn't set in concrete or welded together.
It was just short of a riot. Nine people were arrested. Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission executive director Don Poss called it a shame and an embarrassment.
And when the clock ticks down on the Vikings at the Metrodome next weekend, officials say they're determined it won't happen again. They held a security summit at the Metrodome on Wednesday.
“There will obviously be a great deal of attention for inside security, just monitoring so that fans can celebrate, but do so safely and responsibly,” said Medaria Arradondo, the police inspector in charge of the First Precinct in downtown Minneapolis
How much security? A lot. There’ll be nearly twice the number of Minneapolis police on hand for a typical game, as well as extra personnel from Whelan Security, the company that provides private security for the Vikings.
“All told, we're looking at close to 700 security representatives within the building,” said Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson. “We don't expect any issues, but we want this to be a memorable game for our fans, and we want to do it in a safe and respectful way.”
Forget the souvenir hunting, too.
“Nobody's leaving with anything,” said Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen. “We're putting that rule in place, and we're going to stick to it from the beginning of the game to the end.”
That will be a little easier now than it was 30 years ago. News footage from the time shows one fan even brought a hacksaw to the last Vikings game to help dismantle Met Stadium.
“The NFL bag policy and the fact that they wand and search people as they come in will help a lot,” Kelm-Helgen said. “People won't be able to bring any kind of tools or anything that will allow them to unhook things.”
It won’t all be sticks and warnings on the last day. The Vikings say there'll be some carrots, as well.
The team will offer mementoes and events at the Metrodome that day. Fans will be able to bring home a token of the Metrodome era, without tearing loose a piece of it. That includes a commemorative pennant handed to every fan as they come through the doors for that final game.
Anderson says the team is also considering how to make other memorabilia available to fans to mark the occasion, after the stadium closes.
“We're looking at turf. Seat backs. Maybe a save the stub ticket program, where we encourage our fans to save their final ticket and we'll have a nice commemorative piece that they could slide their ticket into. All those options are on the table.”
The closing ceremonies for the Metrodome will start next Saturday, Dec. 28, with an event and stadium tours for season ticket holders. The team is also planning a post-game ceremony in the stadium to mark the Vikings departure from their long time home.