The end is near for the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome--excuse me, Mall of America Field.

Once the Minnesota Vikings mercifully finish their season, the Dome has a date with the wrecking ball in a few months, and I'm not going to miss it. It represents the end of a bad era for sports venues.

I attended the last baseball game at Metropolitan Stadium in the rain in late September of 1981, when Calvin Griffith stood at home plate and told the crowd to be sure to attend when the Twins opened the 1982 against Seattle in the Metrodome. From where I sat, Calvin looked like he was gritting his teeth.

I have to confess, I haven't been in the place since the Twins moved to Target Field, but the Dome was built on time and under budget, and it shows. It always has. It was sterile, it was echo-ey when it wasn't full and it had no atmosphere for a game. At least not for me.

Sure, Sharon and I went to games in the rain but were warm and dry once we got into the old ball building. But it was built for football, only accommodating baseball--with seats down the first- and third-base lines that were oriented toward somewhere in the outfield and definitely not toward home plate.

I was there for Game 6 of the 1987 World Series, my loudest sporting event experience ever, and the noise was impressive. Really, really impressive. Same with some capacity-crowd games in the 1987 and 1988 regular seasons.

But I have to go with Tim Laudner on this one. At the affiliates' event at the end of the Twins' final season in the Dome, he told us he'd had good experiences both playing there and watching his kids' football games there.

But he also said if it were blown up, he wouldn't feel bad at all.

And when the wrecking ball hits, I'm pretty sure I won't, either.