MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Metrodome was famous for much, including a heavy schedule of amateur baseball games, like high school teams.
The Dome is gone, but U.S. Bank Stadium is here. It was built primarily for football, but it’s been converted to allow teams for some baseball — and the thrill is similar to the Metrodome.
They take batting practice in the bowels — the pregame ritual — but this is different, because it’s a chance to play the great outdoor game, indoors.
Part of the deal in building U.S. Bank Stadium was to allow for baseball, so one team called to find out if they could play.
“U.S. Bank Stadium has been great,” Heritage Christian Academy head coach John Ledeboer said. “They sent out an email asking if high school teams want to get together and play at the stadium and I thought it’d be a great opportunity. It’s great for our kids to be in an environment like this, especially from a small school.”
For teams and players, there is something majestic about coming into big, landmark buildings — even with small crowds and an echo, it feels good.
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“It was kind of fun. The kids were pretty excited when we told them about a month or two ago that we were going to do this,” New Life Academy Baseball coach Dave Darr said. “They got pretty excited and it’s kind of been a circle on their schedule. It’s a great experience for them, and they never got a chance to play in the Metrodome, and I got a chance to do that. I remember when I got to do that and how exciting that was the first few times.”
The idea is to keep the grand old game alive by keeping options open — the kind that come from big stadiums.
“It’s really special,” New Life Academy outfielder Henry George said. “It wasn’t on our calendar to begin the year, so we were just anticipating playing these guys up at their field, but then we heard that they got moved down here.”
It’s not quite the same as the Metrodome where you played on the same field as the Twins, but it’s still the Vikings home, and that means something to these young players.
The setup is similar to the Metrodome, although there is no dirt — even on the pitcher’s mound. The whole field is turf, and the dug outs are temporary. Still, it’s a place that will suffice.
“Coming to football stadium, and it looks like a football stadium, but it’s cool,” Ledeboer said. “They got the baggie out in right still.”
And with a constant threat of a Minnesota spring turning into winter, it’s important the state have a place where the game can live year-round.
“It is our 5th game. We’ve already been playing since the beginning of April, four games,” Ledeboer said. “But it is nice, especially for the colleges to come out here and play, and the high schools, too.”