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Metrodome keeps rocking

MINNEAPOLIS - For the second straight season, the Minnesota Twins extended their season to game No. 163. The Twins defeated the Kansas City Royals 13-4 on Sunday, the final day of the regular season. The crowd of 51,155 was the largest for a regu...

Metrodome
The Metrodome will be the site of one more Twins game Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers. Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS - For the second straight season, the Minnesota Twins extended their season to game No. 163.

The Twins defeated the Kansas City Royals 13-4 on Sunday, the final day of the regular season. The crowd of 51,155 was the largest for a regular-season game in 16 years.

The Twins remained tied with the Detroit Tigers, who also won on Sunday, for first place in the AL Central.

The two teams will play a one-game playoff at 4 p.m. Tuesday to determine which team will face the New York Yankees in the postseason.

That keeps the Metrodome, like is has so many times in its history, at the center of the national stage as the multi-purpose stadium also plays host to the highly anticipated football game tonight between the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers.

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Then its back to baseball Tuesday afternoon as the Twins try to overcome last season's one-game playoff loss to the Chicago White Sox, a game which was played in Chicago.

For 28 seasons, Twins fans had a hot-and-cold relationship with the stadium.

It was the ear-bruising, Dome-Sweet-Dome when its friendly environment helped the team win two World Series championships. But it was also the neck-busting, summer-stealing cavern that made purists long for the fresh air and real grass that their team escapes to next season when the newly built Target Field opens.

On Sunday, fans filled the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to the brim, just as they did for the 1987 and '91 championship games. They shared memories, toasted champagne glasses, waved Homer Hankies, roared as the team took the field and snapped photos inside and out.

"It was a fun run," said Sharon Baringer, a longtime season ticketholder. "I knew someday it was going to have to end."

Not counting the playoffs, just shy of 50 million people came through the stadium's gates - 49,779,730 through Saturday.

Keith Daniels figures he accounts for more than 400 of that tally. His son bought him tickets behind the Twins' dugout Sunday, a payback gesture for a father who brought them to dozens of games and the two World Series. Daniels said he'll miss the place, especially the consistently comfortable temperature.

"It got a bad rap because it wasn't designed for baseball," Daniels said.

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While the Metrodome was home for the Twins, they didn't have the run of the place. They shared it with the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers opened their own football stadium last month, and the Vikings are trying to get money for fresh digs, too.

Images from the 1982 inaugural season played on the scoreboard before the game. An announcer in the archive footage called it a "dazzling new setting in which to build a new tradition" that set a "new architectural standard for indoor ballparks."

It wasn't a universally shared view. Many seats were far from the action, and many required fans to contort their bodies or strain their necks to see home plate.

The $517 million Target Field, located on the opposite end of downtown Minneapolis, will offer fans striking views of the city skyline, wider seats and more leg room. Tickets will be harder to come by, though, since the capacity is 40,000, compared with 55,300 in the Metrodome.

Baringer, for one, isn't looking forward to the move.

Joining her baseball pals for a traditional last-game potluck - a spread featuring champagne, boiled shrimp, deviled eggs and Tater Tot hotdish - Baringer doubts she'll pull off the same kind of attendance streak she amassed in the Dome. She's missed only one game in the 13 years she had season tickets - for her daughter's wedding.

"She got married on the opener. I never let her forget that one," Baringer said. "Thank God they're still married.

She can't picture herself sitting outside in early April or October. The outside temperature was 52 degrees at game time Sunday.

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"I'm going to have to be a fair-weather fan," she said. "Definitely a fair-weather fan."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Metrodome
In this Oct. 2, 1981, file photo, a wide-angle view shows the inside of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome under construction in Minneapolis. As the Minnesota Twins prepare to move across town to the Target Field for natural grass and open sky next spring, the final weeks at the Metrodome spark reflection on the 28 seasons inside. Associated Press

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