A conversation with the dome god
MINNEAPOLIS — There are 192 panels that make up the roof at the Metrodome. The panels come in various sizes and are shaped in diamonds, triangles and rectangles.
The latest snow to reach the Twin Cities came in a larger pile than anticipated. The roof experts at the Dome took note of an overly stressed panel and ruptured it with a shotgun blast, causing a hole to appear above what was supposed to be the 50-yard line for Monday night's match between the Vikings and the Chicago Bears.
The holes created by the four previously ruptured panels had been patched in an effort to keep as much heat in the main arena as possible. Now, there was again a large opening to let in a kick-ass Minnesota winter, as well as a heap of snow in the middle of Mall of America Field.
This was the snow and ice that came down with the latest ruptured panel. The idea behind getting heat inside the arena was to have it rise, warm the roof and melt as much of the snow and ice sitting above as possible.
Sadly, the water from the melt caused a waterfall through the new hole, as well as steady streams leaking from the four patch jobs.
The words written here about the Dome have not always been kind, yet we had been together on so many summer nights and fall weekends that it seemed as if a sportswriter was visiting an old friend in home hospice care.
This visit took place as it was turning dark on the longest night of the year in Minnesota, and with all the dramas of "Monday Night Football" and Brett Favre moved a mile east to the new TCF Bank Stadium.
As much as checking on the Dome's frail condition, I was there in an attempt to conjure a spirit that we have known to exist since the summer of 1987.
It was during a homestand in that World Series-winning season that Dick Such, Tom Kelly's pitching coach, made us aware of this important ally.
The Twins were hanging on to a one-run lead late in the game. The opposition had a tying run at first and a ball was drilled to the right-center gap.
"Bounce, Dome gods," Such shouted from the dugout.
The baseball bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. The tying run was stuck at third, and it stayed there as the Twins won the ballgame.
On Monday, in the stillness of the big blue room, with only the sound of water streams, I offered this beseechment:
"Why you do us this way?"
There was nothing for a minute, and then came a rumble, and a deep, commanding voice that clearly belonged to the Chief Dome God said: "This happened because of that man from New Jersey."
Was this a reference to Zygi Wilf, owner of the Vikings?
CDG: "Of course, Zygi. A couple of weeks ago, he again stated his preference for a new stadium without a roof. That's when I decided to give him a sample of what cold-weather football has to offer a roofless NFL team in Minnesota."
Reporter: "But this was an act of nature — a historic winter storm — that caused your Dome's calamitous condition."
CDG: "Who do you think consulted with Boreas, the god of winter, to bring this about? Me ... to teach Wilf a lesson."
Reporter: "Why so bitter?"
CDG: "You're a lifetime Minnesotan and ask, 'Why so bitter?' How many World Series would the Twins have won without our Dome? Eight-and-0 at home, 0-and-6 on the road, so your answer is, 'No World Series.'
"The Twins paid us back with a decade of curses and then abandoned us as if the Dome was no more than torn turf in their cleats."
Reporter: "The Vikings have no reason for great loyalty, sir — 29 seasons and the Dome gods never have taken them to a Super Bowl."
CDG: "Was it our fault that knucklehead of a coach decided to take a knee? And then a field-goal kicker we basically carried to a perfect season with our perfect conditions ... he chokes on a 38-yarder and it's our fault?
"Listen, buddy, we have done everything the Vikings asked for 28 years — let them bombard our walls with obscenely loud music, free rent, naming rights for the field — and what they give in return are threats and ridicule.
"They can go outside and freeze. See if the Dome gods care."