29 Years Later They Do It Again

Monday night football is going down in the Twin Cities this evening, with the game set to be played outdoors, at the University of Minnesota’s stadium with four to six inches of snow forecast to fall during the evening.

It’s the first time since December 20, 1981 that the Vikings have played a home game outside. On that very cold Sunday, they lost to the Chiefs 10-6 in the final event at old Metropolitan Stadium in the suburb of Bloomington.

The details of the action escape me. I was there covering the game. There have been so many games between then and now, the plays fade away. What I do remember is before and after the game.

The Chiefs stayed in a Marriott hotel that was just across the parking lot from the stadium. I remember Saturday evening watching the snow come down as nobody wanted to venture out of the hotel because of the weather. The next morning, I woke up to find that the wind had been so strong and the snow so plentiful that it blew flakes through the seal of the room’s window. Yes snow was everywhere. And it was cold, the type of cold where it hurt the inside of your nose when you took a breath.

We went over to the stadium Sunday morning and walked on the field there and it was rock hard. Snow crackled under our feet as we walked the sidelines. It was piled up on all sides of the field, which had been covered overnight. At the Met, the team’s benches were set up just like they were at Kansas City’s now gone Municipal Stadium – both teams were on the same side of the field. The opposite side from the benches had snow piled up everywhere. Check out the picture at the bottom of this post to give you an idea of how much snow was on the sidelines.

The game was not one of the most memorable in Chiefs history. Nick Lowery kicked a 30-yard field goal and QB Steve Fuller threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to WR Stan Rome for the last touchdown in the stadium. Chiefs FB Billy Jackson ran for 102 yards on 25 carries in the game. Sacks were registered by Ken Kremer and Mike Bell.

The final play at the Met was a kneel down by Fuller with 15 seconds left and the Vikings out of timeouts.

It’s then that things got crazy, as the fans began tearing the stadium apart. Some came with their own tools, others with shovels, crow bars and the like. To reach the visitor’s locker room at the stadium, you had to leave the press box and then go down on the main concourse and walk through the crowd.

I came out of a stairwell and started walking down the concourse when my movement as stopped by three guys who were carrying a phone booth out of the stadium. Others had already pulled seats from their moorings and were taking those homes. Signage was being ripped from the walls. Police were stationed at the entrances to the team and officials locker rooms, but only until they cleared out. Then, fans were going to be able to help themselves to shower heads, hooks, placards and the rest of the debris of an NFL locker room.

The next year, the Vikings and Twins moved indoors to the Hubert H. Humphrey Dome, or Metrodome as it was eventually named. Just last spring, the Twins moved out of the dome, opening their Target Field in downtown Minneapolis and playing baseball outdoors.

The Vikings continue to lobby for a new stadium, but progress has been fleeting. So after snow piled up and deflated the roof of the dome, they had to move their game against the Giants to Ford Field in Detroit.

And Monday night, they are back outside, 29 years later to play football in the fashion it should be played – in the elements. Considering the cold and snow, I’ll be happy to watch history being remade from the family recliner.

The picture above was taken before that game on December 20, 1981 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. That’s your favorite internet maven at the lower left corner crouched down on the snow. Among the other faces are Bob Sprenger, then the Chiefs public relations director and his assistant Doug Kelly. Wearing the outrageous large cowboy hat was Wayne Larivee, who at the time was the Chiefs play-by-play radio voice. Over on the right side of the picture are three guys in mustaches. In order from left to right they are our own Kent Pulliam, Mike Swanson (who is now the public relations director for the Royals) and Alan Eskew who is still working in freelance sports writing. The women in the picture are all Vikings cheerleaders who joined us for the photo that was taken by our man Hank Young. It seems a hundred years ago, not 29.

5 Responses to “29 Years Later They Do It Again”

  • December 20, 2010  - Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the memories Bob. As I recall didn’t they once blow torch the surface to thaw it so they could play a game in the playoffs? That was old school NFL. The Vikings used to epitomize why they called it the black and blue division. By the way, you look just like you did back then… well maybe the hair anyway.

  • December 20, 2010  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Sorry for the anonymous post. For some reason it didn’t recognize me until after my message.

  • December 21, 2010  - Milkman says:

    It will always be hard to root for anything “Vikings”, after they turned their backs on Lamar Hunt and decided to accept an NFL franchise instead of keeping their word to become part of the new AFL. How fitting is it though that they seem to be cursed- four Super Bowls without a victory, The 15-1 season of ’98 when they lost the NFC championship to the upstart Falcons, to the last couple of years with the Favre fiasco, then the roof collapsing 2 weeks ago. It sure does seem like that team has some awful bad mo-jo going for it.

  • December 21, 2010  - el cid says:

    Not a big vikings fan but at least they tried with a Wr at QB. Add the field and Farve being done and HC getting fired, who know what that team will turn in to or where they will play.

  • December 21, 2010  - Terry says:


    That looks like “Bieber Hair” to me!

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