Metrodome has at least one fan in John Anderson

With the Minnesota football team set to move into TCF Bank Stadium next fall, the Twins preparing for opening day 2010 at Target Field and Vikings fans lobbying for their share of MinneapolisâÄô recent stadium binge, it seems as though few people would miss the Metrodome if it disappeared tomorrow from the downtown skyline. John Anderson would be one of those few people. When Anderson was named the Gophers head baseball coach in the fall of 1981 , the Dome was still under construction. It would be inflated for the first time on Oct. 2 of that year (and inflated again after a 10-inch snowfall collapsed the roof 48 days later) and completed the following April . It wasnâÄôt until 1984 that Minnesota played its first game under the bubble , but it has been there every year since. Anderson realizes heâÄôs in the minority as a fan of the Dome. After all, crowds there are sparse; the ping of metal bats echo off tens of thousands of empty seats at every game. But heâÄôs not referring to the atmosphere. More than anything, it comes down to consistency. âÄúThe guys pitch on the days theyâÄôre supposed to pitch and you play on the days youâÄôre supposed to play,âÄù he said. âÄúI think the routine right now is really critical as youâÄôre trying to get your team ready for the Big Ten season.âÄù The Gophers have 14 games scheduled at the Metrodome in 2009. Five have been played already, including the Dairy Queen Classic, which Anderson founded in 1985. It brought in teams from California, Hawaii and Washington, and consistently attracts top programs from the southern and western United States to Minneapolis in late February. This weekend, Minnesota hosts the Metrodome Tournament, with games against Illinois State Friday at 6:35 p.m., Western Michigan Saturday at 6:35 p.m. and South Dakota State Sunday at 3:05 p.m. Without the Metrodome, Minnesota would have to venture south of the Mason-Dixon Line to find suitable baseball weather in early March. After this weekend, thatâÄôs where theyâÄôll be, with eight games in Texas from March 13-21. âÄúI wish we could [play in Minneapolis] all month, to be honest with you,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúThe players donâÄôt, but I do.âÄù Actually, he may be wrong about the players. âÄúItâÄôs a huge advantage in the Dome,âÄù sophomore reliever Cullen Sexton said. âÄúSome people may not like it, but when itâÄôs cold out and we have a place to practice, not many other people do. We can stay home when all the other Midwest teams have to travel. ItâÄôs a huge advantage in the winter.âÄù