The Metropolitan Sports Center (the name was officially changed to just the “Met Center” in 1982) was built for the new National Hockey League expansion team, the Minnesota North Stars. Construction took a year, from October 1966 to 1967, at a cost $7 million. On October 21, 1967, the North Stars played their first home game against the California Seals. The multicolored spectator seats were in the process of being installed as fans arrived at the arena for the first time.
The facility seated 15,000. It was home to the North Stars Hockey team from 1967-1993 and ABA’s Minnesota Muskies. The Met Center was considered to be one of the finest arenas in the NHL for many years, both for its sight lines and its ice surface. Among NHL players, the Met was known for fast ice, the best lighting, great locker rooms and training facilities.
Shows at the Met Center (up to 1975) include:
Sergio Mendes and the Brazil ’66 and Glen Campbell came to the new Met Center on December 16, 1967. Mendez had been here previously in the spring of 1966.
On March 8, 1968, WDGY sponsored “Super Scene ’68.” The show was at the Metropolitan Sports Center in front of 6,000 fans. It was co-sponsored by WDGY, and the station’s DJs Scott Burton and Johnny Canton cut fine figures in their Oleg Cassini Nehru suits (the “Raja” model), courtesy Kieffer’s. Also appearing were JJ Bowman and Jerry Brooke. The show was produced by Dick Shapiro and the list of performers was impressive:
- Wilson Pickett (the Insider said the band used the gig for practice)
- The Hollies
- Strawberry Alarm Clock (Insider said “disappointing”)
- The Mystics
- The Del Counts
- The Sir Raleighs
- The Nickel Revolution. Read an account of this monumental event on the Nickel Revolution’s blog.
Connie’s Insider noted a “shortage of Negroes” at the show, wondering if they knew that Pickett was on the bill.
Frank Sinatra and the Four Seasons played a benefit concert for the Citizens for Humphrey Committee at the Met Center on July 16, 1968.
Tiny Tim played the Metropolitan Sports Center on October 18, 1968. David Hicks remembers:
I was an usher for Bob Sims (who had the ushering concession) from 1966 to 1971 and I saw many of these concerts. The Tiny Tim concert at Met Center was sort of neat to me. He entered the stage (the stage was not at the end of the arena but on the side right in front of the hockey benches) with the lights out from one of the entrances for the hockey team and I was asked to escort him to the stage. He had a wireless microphone which was quite new at the time, and was talking to the crowd in an eerie voice as we entered the arena. There I was walking with Tiny Tim escorting him by the elbow from the dressing room to the stage. For a 17 year old kid it was quite a thrill
The concert also included Joe Tex; Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart; and the Young Rascals. Local group the Sir Raleighs were the opening act.
Andy Williams and Roger Miller played the Met Center on December 6, 1968 at the WDGY Holiday Spectacular. Johnny Canton remembered:
One of WDGY’s largest concerts/shows starred then-popular Andy Williams along with Roger Miller at Met Center. It was our Christmas Concert and we filled Met Center. Of course, Andy was the pride of network TV at the time with his weekly show. Miller was no slouch either having had several hit songs. The entire WDGY air staff had a chance to take the stage and emcee. Great evening!
A Grand Ole Opry Show show came to the Met Center on December 28, 1968, starring:
- Jeannie C. Riley
- Dave Dudley
- Billy Grammer
- Bobby Lord
- The Compton Brothers
- Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys
- Comedian Red Murphy
Vanilla Fudge and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown played the Met Center on April 11, 1969.
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and O.C. Smith played the Met Center on November 21, 1969.
B.J. Thomas, Roy Orbison, and the Four Tops (February 6). What a gas to have this first hand account from Rollie Anderson!
Roy doesn’t show, BJ’s late and here’s three of the Four Tops
Tonight we went to the B J Thomas show at the Metropolitan Sports Center with Mitch & Marilyn and Norm. They drove. Besides the Four Tops, Roy Orbison was supposed to be there but he supposedly “hurt his back” and couldn’t make it. The advertising posters boasted a huge 3 ½ hour spectacular! Well, as it turned out, the show was scheduled to begin at 8 pm but we waited until 8:40 when disc jockey, Scott Burton, came out and gave us the bad news about Roy and then said B J Thomas missed his flight and was “on his way right now” and would be there about 9:30.
Despite the above headline, all of the Four Tops showed up and performed for 50 minutes and they were pretty good. However, they did not perform my favorite song of theirs, “It’s the Same Old Song.” After a 30 minute break, the backup group for B J, “The Arrangement,” came out to perform. Then when B J finally came out, he sang three songs before saying “I hope you didn’t mind waiting.” I couldn’t believe it when he finished singing in less than 25 minutes, walked off the stage and the lights came on and it was all over at 10:40.
So, the great 3½ hour spectacular, after subtracting all the delays was only 1 ½ hours long including the back up group’s appearance! After that farce, the five of us went to the Embers restaurant at highway 100 and 36th. We had a lot of fun there!
What was billed as the First Met Center Pop Festival was held at the Met Center with 12 bands on March 20, 1970. The 8-hour show started at 4 pm, and the ticket price was an astounding $5! Featured acts were:
- Canned Heat
- Grand Funk Railroad
- Buddy Miles Express
- The Amboy Dukes (Ted Nugent)
- The Litter
- Brownsville Station
- The Stooges (Iggy Pop)
- Johnny Winter, unexpectedly joined on stage by brother Edgar
- Rotary Connection (Minnie Ripperton was out sick)
- Truth – according to Wikipedia, this was an American Contemporary Christian group, active from 1971 to 2001. Formed by John Roger Breland, the ensemble’s name stands for “Trust, Receive, Unchangeable, True Happiness [in Jesus]”. It was initially composed of 15 members, eventually expanding to 22 members.
Originally scheduled acts the Who, Brian Auger and Trinity, and Conqueror Worm did not make the show. Although it was much advertised that a special sound system was being brought in by Tomorrow, Incorporated from Chicago “for undistorted sound,” apparently the acoustics were terrible. The show was a joint venture of Gary Jorgensen of the New City Opera House and Ray Heim of the Met Center.
Vanilla Fudge reportedly bombed.
Passion Play toured and we saw the Ballerina Film, and yes they did perform music from Aqualung, Thick as a Brick and others, but the primary concert was all done start to finish as Passion Play, and the rest of the music followed.
Led Zeppelin played the Met Center on April 12, 1970 – sponsored by New City Opera House. Miscellaneous memories from Facebook:
- It was very foggy.
- Tripleheader with Twins in AM, North Star playoff in afternoon and a late start for Zeppelin
- Jimmy Page had a broken finger. Didn’t hear any difference….
- Large and spirited crowd
- Was that the show that they were very late to arrive, pulled the limo up next to the stage when they arrived? Plant was so loaded he needed a chair to keep him standing up!
Crosby, Stills, and Nash (July 9, 1970)
Tom Jones (July 19)
Iron Butterfly and Crow ( November 13, 1970)
Grand Funk Railroad (November 22). Humble Pie opened? Still unknown at the time.
Three Dog Night, January 8, 1971, Met Center (See also October 15 below)
Sly and the Family Stone, the Mystics, February 19, 1971, Met Center
Savoy Brown & Grease Band & Small Faces, February 20, 1971, Met Center. Tickets were $4. The hippie rag Hundred Flowers published a story about a guy with no money who hitched a ride to the concert, sneaked in with a paying customer’s torn ticket, and complained about bad sound and capitalist pigs.
The Guess Who, March 18, 1971, Met Center
The Grassroots and special guest stars at the Met Center on April 23, 1971. The guest stars may have included Alice Cooper and Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids
Tom Jones, June 3, 1971, Met Center
The Who, August 15, 1971, Met Center, also featuring LaBelle. Various reports are that gate crashers or an influx of phony tickets resulted in bedlam at every entrance, and the Bloomington Police Department used teargas for the first time. Most of it blew in the cops’ faces. Most of the show was songs from “Who’s Next,” which hadn’t been released yet. The sound of a synthesizer magically appeared, either from a guy behind the curtain or via tape. Ad below posted by Jim Froehlich. Wishbone Ash opened.
The Jackson Five, September 8, 1971, Met Center
The Bee Gees with the Ian Forrest Orchestra and Tin Tin, September 24, 1971, Met Center
Three Dog Night with Gayle McCormick (from Smith) and the Underhand Band, October 15, 1971, Met Center. Wolfman Jack was working with Three Dog Night, and Johnny Canton introduced him. Hank McKenzie recalls:
It was memorable because while we were in enjoying the concert, there were a number of disgruntled fans outside who couldn’t get in and the police were called. When we came out of the concert we were confronted by police and told to move on. I explained that we were waiting for a ride home and were to meet our ride in front of the auditorium. The cop told me that I could not meet them there. We ended up walking into downtown to catch a bus back to Robbinsdale where my driver was extremely angry as my friends were ‘under age’ so to speak. All was smoothed out the next morning when the news came on about the riots at the concert the night before.
Jesus Christ Superstar, October 19, 1971, Met Center
Grand Funk Railroad and Ballin’ Jack, October 27, 1971, Met Center. Concerts West Presents an Historic Event!
Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, October 29, 1971, Met Center
Elvis, November 5, 1971, Met Center See Elvis in the Twin Cities.
Deep Purple, Buddy Miles and His Band, and Uriah Heep performed at the Met Center on January 21, 1972. Triangle Productions
Sly and the Family Stone performed at the Met Center on February 4, 1972.
Joe Cocker appeared at the Met Center on April 3, 1972.
Ten Years After, Wild Turkey, and special guest star Procol Harum appeared at the Met Center on April 19, 1972.
James Brown appeared at the Met Center on April 28, 1972.
Creedence Clearwater Revival performed at the Met Center on May 5, 1972. Freddie King and Tony Joe White opened. One memory of this show is that it ended early when someone threw a roll of toilet paper on the stage.
Jethro Tull performed at the Met Center on June 5, 1972, presented by Howard Stein. Thick as a Brick tour, tickets $7.95. Mary Hamel opened. Wikipedia says:
The album is notable for only including one song, which spans the entire album. Thick as a Brick was deliberately crafted in the style of a concept album (and as a “bombastic” and “over the top” parody). The original packaging, designed like a newspaper, claims the album to be a musical adaptation of an epic poem by a (fictional) 8-year-old boy, though the lyrics were actually written by the band’s frontman, Ian Anderson. The album was a commercial success and topped the US charts. Following the release of the album, the band set out on tour, playing the entire album with some extra additions that took the performance from 40 minutes to over an hour to perform. [Band member Martin] Barre recalls the first live performances being “a terrible experience” as there was a lot of complex music with a variety of time signature changes to remember. During the show, the entire band stopped in mid performance when a telephone rang on stage, which Anderson would answer, before carrying on with the music. [John] Evan read the news and weather reports halfway through the show.
Todd S. posted:
Thick as a Brick was ALL T.A.A.B., right down to a phone left on stage as the band left after its encores …. Then the phone rang and rang and rang, until Ian Anderson appeared, rushing to the front of the stage to lift the receiver… and as he answered, he listened, then looked out at the crowd and said ” It’s … for YOU!”
THE ROLLING STONES AT THE MET 1972
Rolling Stones performed at the Met Center on June 18, 1972. The concert was marred by gate crashers, counterfeit tickets, and teargas, and ultimately cut short, but the Stones were reportedly gentlemen. 17,500 attended. Tickets were $6. Stevie Wonder opened, using the synthesizer on songs that would make up the album “Innervisions.” Presented by Howard Stein and Sunday Promotions.
Review by Jon Bream of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
The double-disc “Exile on Main Street,” arguably the band’s finest album, had just been released, and the single “Tumbling Dice” was rolling up the charts. Opening act Stevie Wonder, perhaps at his creative peak, did a 10-minute drum solo in his first number that wasn’t appreciated by the 17,300 concertgoers. Jagger, in a purple jumpsuit with pink sash, rocked for 15 songs and 75 minutes. The lack of air conditioning was as annoying as the ineffective sound system. (Or was it the arena’s acoustics?) Most memorable was the tear gas that filtered into the building from police skirmishes with ticketless fans outside the arena. (three stars out of five stars)
Peg Meier and Mike Anthony of the Tribune filed a story on June 19, 1972:
Ticketless Stones fans, police clash
As 17,300 young people stomped and cheered the Rolling Stones Sunday night at the Metropolitan Sports Center, another 1,000 or so were chased away from the outside of the building by a few rounds of police-tossed tear gas.
Hundreds of ticketless youths tried to crash the gate to view what many people consider to be the most popular rock-music group today.
Others milled around the outside of the building – drinking, smoking and listening to the music pulsating through the walls. Most of them ignored pleas from authorities to disperse. there apparently were no serious injuries – just weeping eyes from the tear gas and cuts from flying bottles and rocks.
Police said there were only a few arrests, such as the two young men who were picked up trying to break into the Rolling Stones’ van.
It had been the most eagerly anticipated concert in recent Twin Cities history, the auditorium having been sold out in four hours on May 24. Ticket scalping began the same day, and continued until concert time, with some sellers asking as high as $65 for $6.50 tickets. …..
Police gave a number of warnings to the outside crowd at least an hour before the tear gas was used. Few left the area Some members of the crowd tossed beer bottles and firecrackers toward the police, but most of the injured people were other youths who arrived late for the concert and were in the line of fire. ….
[Sports Center Manager Bob] Reid had about 300 security guards and ushers and policemen on duty last night, the greatest number in the history of the sports center. About 100 men are on duty on an average hockey night.
Only one star has outdrawn the Rolling Stones here. His name is Billy Graham and he attracted 20,000 people a few summers ago. ….
Head Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, eyes surrounded by sparkles and wearing a purple jumpsuit, was, as usual, the star of the show, strutting, bumping, twisting, jerking and occasionally chugging a bottle of beer.
About half of the 75-minute set was oldies but goodies – “Gimme Shelter,” “In Love in Vain,” and “Midnight Rambler.” During the latter song Jagger flagellated the stage with a golden belt. The rest of the show came from “Exile on Main Street,” their new album: “Tumbling Dice,” “All Down the Line,” and others. The big finish was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Street Fighting Man,” a song that was banned on many radio stations before the political convention months of 1968.
Jagger flung rose petals from a basket as the Rolling Stones bowed off stage.
Source of the photo above is unknown, but a gallery of photos by Rich Zimmerman is available for sale.
Three Dog Night, Buddy Miles, and Black Oak Arkansas appeared at the Met Center on July 15, 1972.
The Osmonds, the Heywoods, and Jan Baker appeared at the Met Center on August 19, 1972.
Grand Funk Railroad appeared at the Met Center on October 13, 1972
The Moody Blues appeared at the Met Center on October 29, 1972.
Chicago appeared at the Met Center on November 18, 1972.
Deep Purple and Fleetwood Mac Plus Dick Heckstall-Smith appeared at the Met Center on December 3, 1972. Triangle Productions
Pepsi sponsored 10 Years After, Foghat, and the Strawbs at the Met Center on April 30, 1973. The show was presented by Howard Stein as “A British rock Spectacular.”
Neil Young with the Stray Gators, Time Fades Away Tour, January 7, 1973, Met Center
Sha Na Na, February 3, 1973, Met Center
Guess Who, February 16, 1973, Met Center
Santana, March 19, 1973, Met Center
Ten Years After, April 30, 1973, Met Center
Sonny and Cher, June 8, 1973, Met Center. Comedian David Brenner opened.
Jethro Tull (July 2), Passion Play tour. Steeleye Span opened. Pat O. posted:
The Passion Play show was really pretty interesting. After the crazy worldwide success of Thick as a Brick, Tull’s management booked studio time for the new LP and a world tour. They first recorded in a studio in France. They spent months doing it and it was such a disaster that they scraped (and did save) some of it for War Child and recorded it shortly before the US Tour at Morgan Studio in London. No one in the US had heard or knew what they opened the show with and carried on for over a hour. Passion Play was followed by a huge frenzied standing ovation. Once the ovation died down Ian said “we’d now like to play this nice little tune” which was the opening section of Thick as a Brick. The crowd went mad. What a show.
Roberta Flack: July 27, 1973, Met Center
Quicksilver Messenger Service, BB King, August 12, 1973, Met Center
Elton John, August 23, 1973, Met Center. Bob remembers, “He opened up with “Funeral For Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” and then went into “Elderberry Wine.” It was right about the time when the double album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album came out!
Three Dog Night, Foghat, and Teen King and the Princes, September 2, 1973, Met Center. West Central Productions. Three Dog Night also played Duluth on that tour.
Grateful Dead, October 23, 1973, Met Center. Comments on Facebook tell the story; if these are your quotes and you will let me add your name, please let me know.
In the middle of “Casey Jones” a fan went over the security barricade in front of the stage. The security guards started tearing into him. Bobby took his mic stand and swung at the security guys. He said something to the effect of “Stop punching our *** audience.” He then refused to start the music until the security guys left the front of the stage. They left, the song continued. In what turned out to be the finial encore, there was pushing up front. Wier did yell “*** knock it off or we will leave.” They left.
What really sucked was that this show was advertised as “The Grateful Dead Performing 3 Sets.” “Casey Jones” was the first song of Set 3. The fight was ugly – several security dudes beating on one guy who was dancing in the aisle right in front of the stage, even Bill K. jumped off the stage to help break things up and security started pounding on Bill, that’s what Phil is so upset about. The melee ended soon after. By then, Jerry and Phil were both sitting on the stage floor – everyone seeming quite upset by this sudden change of weird energy and bad vibe. The band had several discussions – you could see that they were at serious odds about whether they should continue with the plan and do a third set. After all, the first two sets were well played, creative and joyful. When they finally tried to play “Saturday Night,” you could tell their hearts and minds were no longer into continuing this night. Too bad for all of us. Those security punks must have left their “Minnesota Nice” at the door or when they donned their uniforms.
The “Wang Dang Doodle” Organ Jam – if memory serves me right – was actually the band and crew trying to get, what we all thought was the House’s Wurlitzer, on stage and put through the PA. The crew and Keith dealt with this for a long time between the first and second sets, and finally the rest of the band came on stage – with house lights still up – and started playing this tune. Kind of a mini sound check. They brought the house lights down and continued on. A night full of unusual occurrences.
Mark Luebker sent a link to the actual recording of the concert – thanks!
Allman Brothers Band, November 11, 1973, Met Center (Opened by Charlie Daniels)
Loggins and Messina, November 16, 1973, Met Center
Doobie Brothers, November 28, 1973, Met Center
Emerson, Lake and Palmer. December 1, 1973, Met Center
Guess Who and Poco, December 7, 1973, Met Center
Sly and the Family Stone, December 16, 1973, Met Center – did they show up?
Deep Purple, February 22,1974, Met Center
Yes, March 5,1974, Met Center
Here is video shot by David Allan Wright!
Yes Lineup: (Info from Forgotten Yesterdays fan site)
- Jon Anderson – Vocals
- Steve Howe – Guitar
- Christ Squire – Bass
- Rick Wakeman – Keyboards
- Alan White – Drums
- Firebird Suite
- Siberian Khatru (Close To The Edge)
- And You And I (Close To The Edge)
- Close To The Edge (Close To The Edge)
- Revealing Science Of God, The (Tales From Topographic Oceans)
- The Ancient (Tales From Topographic Oceans)
- Ritual (Tales From Topographic Oceans)
- Roundabout (Fragile)
- Starship Trooper (The Yes Album)
Seals and Crofts, March 20,1974, Met Center
Bachman Turner Overdrive, May 11,1974, Met Center
Ten Years After, May 31,1974, Met Center
Cat Stevens, July 6,1974, Met Center – just him, a piano, and a guitar.
Uriah Heep and Aerosmith, July 28,1974, Met Center (Insider reported Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band)
Mac Davis, August 4,1974, Met Center (2 shows)
Steppenwolf, September 29, 1974,1974, Met Center
Deep Purple Burn Tour and Electric Light Orchestra, December 9,1974, Met Center
This website ends at 1974.
DEATH AT THE MET
Bill Masterson the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of injuries suffered during a game, the result of massive head injuries suffered following a hit during a January 13, 1968, contest against the Oakland Seals.
Wikipedia gives this account:
He carried the puck up the ice at full speed, passing it off as two Seals defenders, Larry Cahan and Ron Harris, converged on him. Masterton was knocked backward in the resulting collision and landed on his head. Like most players of his era, he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Referee Wally Harris compared the hit to an explosion, adding “he was checked hard, but I’m sure it wasn’t a dirty play.” The force of the impact caused Masterton to bleed from his nose, ears and mouth. The impact of the hit caused him to lose consciousness before he hit the ice; according to some accounts, he briefly came to and muttered, “Never again, never again” before passing back out. He received treatment on the ice and in the dressing room before being rushed to Fairview-Southdale Hospital. Some 30 hours after his fall, on January 15, Masterton died without ever regaining consciousness.
Masterton’s death sparked a long-running debate in hockey about the merits of wearing helmets, as few NHL players did so in that time. Despite several efforts to mandate their use, it was 11 years before the NHL made them compulsory for all new players beginning in the 1979–80 season. In his memory, the NHL created the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy which it has awarded since 1968 to a player who demonstrates perseverance and dedication to hockey.
- The huge graduating classes of Bloomington high schools had their commencement ceremonies in the building.
- The teams stayed at the Marriott Hotel.
END OF THE MET
The last North Stars game was played in 1993. The team moved to Dallas to become the Dallas Stars. The scoreboard was sold and moved to the Xcel Center, where it still is in use today. The seats, ice assembly, sideboards, and perhaps the doors were moved to the Sleepy Eye Ice Arena, which was built in 1994.
The building was demolished on December 13, 1994, in a series of three controlled implosions of the building and using the usual heavy equipment. Video of the implosion is on YouTube.