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Then and Now: Metropolitan Stadium

by Andrea Swensson

June 27, 2013


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.

media (1)
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.

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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


I'm Down


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
Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.