Vikings running back Robert Smith paused for a moment as cheers echoed throughout Mall of America Field. It was a roar he had heard hundreds of times during his playing career with the team. Smith stepped to the microphone set up on the field turf and addressed the sellout crowd.
"You shouldn't cry because it's over, you should smile because it happened," Smith said about the final game.
The new home will be built on the same spot, but when it is complete that is where the similarities will end.
On September 12, 1982, the Minnesota Vikings opened up the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome with a 17-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rickey Young scored the first regular season touchdown as he found his way to the endzone from three yards out.
Sunday, Minnesota closed the doors on the spot they have called home for 32 years with a win over the Detroit Lions, ending a miserable season. As the franchise takes it outside for the next two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, memories of the past 32 years that were frozen in fans memories were allowed to thaw and in a season filled with lasts, it was the firsts that came to fans minds.
In their stay inside the friendly confines of the dome, the Vikings enjoyed a 167-92 record which included a 6-4 mark in the postseason. With music piped in at ear splitting decibels, the self proclaimed "loudest fans in the NFL" along with a little help made opponents uncomfortable and provided one of the best home field advantages in the league.
One year ago, the team beat the Packers to punch their ticket to the playoffs. This year has been a completely different story, but despite not having anything to play for, the Vikings closed out the Mall of America Field chapter the same way they opened it, with a win.