Forget the conventional wisdom that multipurpose baseball/soccer facilities died out entirely after 1989 skydome open. Welcome to US Bank StadiumHome of the NFL Minnesota Vikings…and the source of the home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers baseball team.
US Bank Stadium opened in July 2016 as the home of the Vikings, replacing a temporary home at TCF Bank Stadium (now Huntington Bank Stadium) and a longer-term home at the Metrodome. However, on March 7, 2017, the stadium was dedicated as the Gophers’ home base when it is too cold to play at Siebert Field on the team’s campus. The Gophers, too, had called the Metrodome all or part of their home many years earlier.
In fact, the Metrodome was the center of Minnesota baseball for decades before it was demolished: when it was cold and snowy outside, you could see local colleges and high schools playing games 24 hours a day. When US Bank Stadium was proposed to local government units, part of the plan called for it to replace Metrodome as the late winter and early spring home of Minnesota baseball. Minnesotans are hardy, but not The hardy. So US Bank Stadium was designed for both baseball and football.
US Bank Stadium’s baseball configuration borrows heavily from configurations for the Vikings and Twins in the Metrodome days. Right field seating is pulled back from the football configuration to make room for baseball, resulting in a huge 34-foot-tall wall—in the Metrodome’s case, a 23-foot-tall plastic bag—and some unusual field measurements: 328 feet LF, 370 ft LC, 381LC, 400 ft C, 365 ft RF. No shelters were designed in the soccer configuration; Instead, shipping containers modified with chain link barriers (to protect players) are towed onto the field and removed as needed. Seating is limited to 10 sections behind home plate and along the first base line behind the minimum net. Two concession stands provide hungry crowds with stadium staples — hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, chicken tenders — in one and beverages, including beer and mixed drinks, in the other.
US Bank Stadium has a reverse tardis design – the seating shell feels smaller inside than it looks from the outside in a design dominated by an abstract ship’s prow – but the many different seating areas make it useful and interesting for all Events varieties, not just baseball.
Technically, of course, the US Bank configuration falls under the rubric of a Multuse Stadium originally implemented at DC Stadium (later RFK Stadium, now in the midst of demolition) but designed in 1960 by Shea Stadium’s designer John Waterbury of Praeger/Kavanaugh/Waterbury architectural firm consisting of configurable seating arrangements depending on the event. Well, we’re not suggesting that multipurpose facilities made a comeback based on the US Bank’s design. Multipurpose sports facilities that included MLB stadiums were all but dead after the retro movement and the opening of the SkyDome. (Clarification: cookie cutter stadiums were all multipurpose stadiums, but not all multipurpose stadiums were cookie cutters. The Metrodome is proof of that.)
And we’d hate to see US Bank Stadium, which hosts baseball for any length of time. By the looks of it, baseball in the bank is a nice little respite from the awful weather, a compromise that allows us poor northern souls to pretend we’re actually outside watching America’s Pastime when in fact we are 20 degrees and a foot of snow on the ground is outside. We’ll live with it.
This article originally appeared the Ballpark Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Login here!