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Toughest Venues: #8 Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome

Submitted by on May 19, 20086 Comments
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers until the TCF Bank Stadium is completed in 2009. (Image courtesy of ESPN/ Scott Boehm/ NFL Photos/ Getty Images)
The Metrodome, or officially known as the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome enters the list at #9. Yes, we gave props to the fans for actually making the effort to attend a game that is located off the campus of Minnesota. But a domed venue has just so much home field potential that the Gophers have failed to take advantage of.

The only perk we could find at the Metrodome over any other venue is that they sell beer. Unfortunately, beer is also abundant at every other tailgate lot in the Big Ten. So no brownie points for the Hump Dump!


Metrodome (Capacity: 64,121)
Home Games Overall attendance Avg. attendance/ game
2007 7 362,538 51,791
2006 6 313,239 52,207
2005 6 294,197 49,032
2004 6 285,438 47,573
2003 7 305,766 44,148

As the only off-campus venue in the Big Ten you can’t really punish the Gophers for its dismal home attendance figures. Even with a 1 win season last year, almost 52,000 fans still made their way to what is the worst venue in the conference to watch the Gophers play. For that, we commend each and every one of them.

But when you can’t attract 50,000 fans during successful season like in 2005, there is simply no excuse. That’s about the same amount of fans that Illinois drew in the past 5 seasons. And Illinois has had a MUCH worst record 4 of the past 5 years compared to the Golden Gophers.


Move aside Ohio State-Michigan, Auburn-Alabama, and Texas-Oklahoma. The longest rivalry in Division I-A football actually belongs to the Golden Gophers against the Wisconsin Badgers. Not enough tradition for you? Try this on for size. Minnesota was the last Division I team to win 3 consecutive national championships between 1934 and 1936. Then, Minnesota went on to win championships in 1940, 1941 and most recently in 1960.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, the tradition of football championships ends in the era prior to the forward pass. Since its last Big Ten title in 1967, Minnesota has struggled to achieve success in the Big Ten.

But Minnesota is rewarded with a 6 in the tradition/history category for their success in advancing players to the NFL. 333 total draft selections, 17 first round picks and 6 Hall of Famers, Minnesota has had their share of talent. Most notably is their ability to churn out running backs with 4 currently playing in the NFL (Marion Barber III, Laurence Maroney, Gary Russell, and Thomas Tapeh).


With the exception of 2007, Minnesota has been consistently average in the Big Ten often flirting with national rankings only to fall short in the Big Ten race. Many of the Golden Gopher faithful have blamed ex-coach Glen Mason for recent shortcomings. But with new coach Tim Brewster, Gopher fans’ no longer have their favorite scapegoat. But despite being a decent, but not great team over the last half-decade (with the exception of 2007), Gopher fans have still not filled the Metrodome to capacity.

Being off campus, students have to make a greater effort if they want to watch their beloved Golden Gophers.
Part of the reason could be the location of the Metrodome from the actual campus located in Twin Cities. Students that want to support their team actually has to take buses from campus to the Metrodome. When ESPN and ABC schedule Gopher games at noon, that means students would actually have to wake up hours in advance simply to watch the Golden Gophers in person.

The other part of Minnesota’s failing attendance problem is the team’s performance on the field. When you are asking students to set aside more time simply to make it to games, you better hope your team is competitive on the field. Unfortunately in recent years, Gopher teams have disappointed at home on numerous occasions making the extra effort to attend these off-campus home games less appealing.


Image courtesy of The Transit Librarian
Not a Gopher game, but the Vikings play at the Hump Dump as well, and as you can see, there are actually horrible sight lines at home games. Fortunately there are plenty of empty seats to relocate to.
This could very well be the worst Big Ten venue when it comes to catering collegiate fans’ needs. Not only is there little available parking lots surrounding the stadium (hence less tailgating, a staple of Big Ten football), fans are expected to make the trip from campus to the venue in downtown downtown Minneapolis. As the only team that plays off-campus in the Big Ten, the Metrodome actually requires shuttle buses for students to attend games from campus. No wonder fans have commonly referred to the Metrodome as the ‘Hump Dump’.

Since the Gophers began playing in the Metrodome in 1982, officials at Minnesota expected attendance to increase due to the climate controlled comfort in the domed stadium, but that has not come to fruition. Gopher games are rarely filled to capacity except when rival Wisconsin or the Iowa Hawkeyes comes to town.

This is all the more disappointing considering the potential home field advantage a domed stadium affords in the Big Ten. Imagine the Horseshoe or Beaver Stadium encapsulated inside a dome. The already thunderous fans support would be amplified to deafening levels. Don’t believe me? The 1987 Playoffs and World Series set new decibel records for noise.

However, Minnesota has not utilized the venue’s inherent advantages to its benefit. If they can do it for baseball, there is absolutely no excuse you can’t do better with college football. It is because of such underutilization of its current venue at Minnesota that we award the Hump Dump a 4.


Home Away
W L W vs ranked L vs ranked W L W vs ranked L vs ranked
2007 1 6 - #8 Ohio St
#25 Wisconsin
0 5 - #20 Michigan
2006 4 2 - #6 Michigan 2 4 - #22 California
#25 Wisconsin
#1 Ohio St
2005 4 2 #11 Purdue #23 Wisconsin
#12 Ohio St
3 2 #21 Michigan -
2004 4 1 - #19 Iowa 1 4 - #14 Michigan
#4 Wisconsin
2003 5 2 - #4 Michigan 4 1 - #12 Iowa
overall 18 13 1 7 10 16 1 7

You got to be kidding me. Northwestern, Indiana AND Illinois have upset more ranked teams at their respective home venues than Minnesota. And playing in a domed stadium, that is beyond pathetic. Why did we still award the Metrodome a 4 in this category? Despite their lack of success against ranked opponents, they do have a winning record at home which at least means they have a higher success rate at home.

The rivalry with Wisconsin for the Paul Bunyan's Axe is the oldest in Division I-A football
My most vivid memory of the Metrodome was in 2005 during the Wisconsin game when, Minnesota, leading in the waning seconds of the fourth against a ranked Badger team, had to punt deep in their own territory. The Badgers managed to break through the line and block the punt forcing the ball to bounce into the end zone where Wisconsin jumped on the ball and automatically earned a touchdown putting them ahead of the Gophers with seconds to go.

TCF Stadium under construction at the Unviersity of Minnesota slated to be ready for the 2009 season. (image courtesy of
I can’t blame Gopher fans for being highly pessimistic. But with a new head coach in Tim Brewster, and their new on-campus stadium set to be completed in 2009, optimism for this program has never been higher. And rightfully so, with a new on-campus stadium (TCF Bank Stadium), there will finally be an established student section with much greater home field support. Hopefully this will lead to more wins as well.

Artist rendering of TCF Stadium from the East


Have you attended a game at the Metrodome? Let us know how your experience went. Your memories of the venue might differ greatly from our perspective and we would like to know.

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