Local Current Blog

Then and Now: Metropolitan Stadium

1960s Postcard / 2013 photo by Steven Cohen

 

Text by Andrea Swensson and Steve Cohen
Research and “Now” photos by Steve Cohen

Now that every address is available with a quick Google search and every concert is Instagrammed from 100 angles, it can be hard to remember a time when things weren’t so heavily documented.

Even massive concerts like the Beatles’ visit to Minneapolis in 1965 and Elvis’s stop through town a decade earlier were scarcely photographed (at least by today’s standards). It can make a photo from that era feel like a long lost relic, and like a rarely opened window that peers into a forgotten time.

In the spirit of remembering and revisiting our history, we’re digging through the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society, Hennepin County Library, Old Minneapolis, and other sources to find the influential venues that predate today’s popular clubs like First Avenue. We’ll step back through time to see the spaces where everyone from Elvis to Iggy Pop to Jimi Hendrix came to play, and take a look at what those historical sites look like today courtesy of a fresh batch of photos by Steve Cohen.

For the first installment of the “Then and Now” series, we’ll revisit the old Met Stadium, which was located on the grounds of the Mall of America and hosted one of the most famous tours to ever pass through Minnesota.

Metropolitan Stadium: 1951-1981

The Met Stadium opened in Bloomington on April 24, 1956 and was home to the minor league baseball team the Minneapolis Millers for its first four years. Starting in 1961, the stadium became home base for the Minnesota Twins and the Vikings. Though it was considered a substandard space for football games, the venue’s operators soon found another good use for the stadium: it could accommodate large amounts of fans for high-demand concerts.

On August 21 1965, The Beatles landed at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport on their only Minnesota visit. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr played at the house of Killebrew, Oliva, and Carew in front of 25,000 fans.

photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society, Photographer: Sully photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society, Photographer: Sully

While they were here, they also held a press conference with local radio station WDGY which, thanks to the magic of YouTube, is now archived online. The video also includes an interview with a police officer about the Beatles’ visit; after shooing some local girls out of the band’s hotel room, someone from the Beatles’ entourage reportedly told the police that “Minneapolis is a very narrow-minded town, as are its police officials.” The band’s crew threatened to never return to Minneapolis, and faithfully kept that promise until the band’s demise in 1970.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OmHyvVSq_EM

photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society, Photographer: Sully

During their visit, a Rickenbaker 12-string guitar was given to George Harrison by an employee of B-Sharp Music Store (video here). Less than two months later, on October 16 George utilized that guitar prominently on The Beatles “If I Needed Someone.”

While at the stadium, the Beatles also hung out with Minnesota Twins equipment manager Ray Crump.

photo Courtesy Old Minneapolis, Jill Griffith

Their set at Metropolitan Stadium was 11 songs:

She’s A Woman
I Feel Fine
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
Ticket To Ride
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby
Can’t Buy Me Love
Baby’s In Black
I Wanna Be Your Man
A Hard Day’s Night
Help!
I’m Down

photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society, Photographer: Neale

Met Stadium closed on December 20, 1981, but not without holding one more memorable concert: On August 1, 1978, a concert featuring the Eagles, the Steve Miller Band, and Pablo Cruise drew a stadium-record 65,000 fans.

The stadium was demolished January 28, 1985, and the Mall of America opened at the same site just seven years later. Coincidentally, Ringo performed on nearly the same grounds in 1995, during a July 4 concert just outside the MOA.

photo by Steve Cohen

Now, the location of Met Stadium home plate is marked near the northwest corner of Nickelodeon Universe inside the Mall of America.

photo by Steve Cohen

And a seat from the Met Stadium has been hung to commemorate the spot where Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew’s 522-foot home run landed in the upper deck on June 3, 1967. It’s situated just above the flume ride in Nickelodeon Universe.

photo by Steve Cohen
  • Scott

    Even in his pre-Yoko days, John Lennon’s response when asked for a picture from Ray Crump was “yeah man just hop in the bed, it’s cool.” #BedPeace

  • Johnny Rey

    I may be old now but I attended this concert 5 days before my 12th birthday. I bought the program, cut out the pictures and put them on my bedroom wall. My grandmother visited and told my mother, “isn’t he a little young to be interested in girls”! Luckily I found the same program at a antique store in the 90’s.

  • Jeanne Andersen

    Take a look at my web site for more Twin Cities Music Highlights: http://www.jeanneandersen.net/musichighlights.html

  • Existential_ist

    The Minneapolis Millers never shared Met Stadium with the Twins or Vikings; that team’s final season was 1960. Your text suggests the three co-existed. Also, that the Beatles didn’t return to the Twin Cities after their single visit isn’t necessarily related to the 1965 threat unless there is proof that is the reason.

    Lastly, “hold” or “accommodate”…not both.

    • Existential_ist

      Good effort on the fixes but the Millers/Twins/Vikings revision still suggests that all three were concurrent tenants. The Millers were not, as they “ceased to be” (thanks Monty Python) with the arrival of the Twins.

      • Andrea Swensson

        Got it. Thank you.