The Thunderbird Motel, The Mick and #534 … Bloomington, MN

Met_Center_Thunderbird_Motel_Postcard_large

After viewing the following home movie, posted on Youtube, a home movie by a fellow named Jim Campbell, circa August 22, 1968, showing the visiting Yankees staying at the Thunderbird Motel in Bloomington, MN, I decided to write a new blog post about the soon to be demolished structure of the old Thunderbird Motel.

Very rare footage, but a common occurrence of the visiting American League ballclub staying at the Thunderbird Motel when playing the Minnesota Twins, which, due to its close proximity to Metropolitan Stadium made it a no-brainer travel decision for the visiting club.

For some of you reading this, perhaps you had a chance to stay at the Thunderbird Motel, during a Minnesota trip, with tickets to the Twins game.  I grew up in Minnetonka, MN, about 30 minutes away from Metropolitan Stadium, which meant my family would not need to stay at a hotel to go to a Twins game back in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  So I missed out on my chance to stay at the popular, Native American Indian themed motel, which became in more modern times, an over the top marketing scheme which played in the 60’s and 70’s and somehow lasted into the politically correct times of the early 2000’s.

thunderbird_1967(Circa 1967, from the front of the hotel, side facing 494)

tb_sign_1(6/16/2016, what remains of the Thunderbird sign, from the opposite angle, on side facing 494)

thunderbird_thru_2000(The Thunderbird in the year 2000)

tb11(Same view, 6/16/2016, during the “removal” of junk via the junk trucks)

 

The old Thunderbird Motel, which became the Ramada-Mall of America after 2005 …

Ramada2-600x330(Post 2005, The Ramada was just as busy, with its close vicinity to the Mall of America)

tb20(6/16/2016, the junk trucks taking their hauls of junk from the abandoned Thunderbird/Ramada)

closed its doors for the last time in the winter of 2016.  The motel is marked for demolition later this summer, 2016.  I took advantage of a beautiful summer afternoon in June (the hotel is just a mile or so from the office building in Bloomington that I work at) to walk around the fenced off motel complex, taking as many pictures with my iphone as I could.  You will see some of the photos I took, and in contrast with older photo-clips from the 1968 home movie youtube video , to show the last “breath” of the 1960’s in the professional sports corridor known as the Metropolitan Sports Complex in Bloomington, MN.  The 3 physical structures included Metropolitan Stadium, where the Twins and Vikings played from 1961-1981.  The Met Center where the North Stars played from 1967 to 1993.  And the Thunderbird Motel, of which the physical structure existed from 1962 to today, that is, until it is torn down later in the summer of 2016.

rizzuto_mingles_with_fans_outside_of_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Phil Rizzuto mingles with fans outside of Thunderbird Motel on 8/22/1968)

tb14(View on opposite side of Motel on 6/16/2016)

rizzuto_signing_autograph_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Rizzuto signing autographs for fans outside of the Thunderbird Motel, 8/22/1968)

rizzuto_walking_on_sidewalk_by_outdoor_pool_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Rizzuto walks along the sidewalk near the outdoor pool, Thunderbird Motel, 8/22/1968)

Mickey Mantle’s final season, 1968, meant one last stay for the Mick at the Thunderbird Motel.

mantle_leaving_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Mickey Mantle exiting the Thunderbird Motel on 8/22/1968)

entrance#5_2

tb3(Doorway exit to the external parking lot of the Thunderbird Motel, on the Metropolitan Stadium side of the motel, 6/16/2016)

mantle_entering_car_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Mantle getting into his “ride” parked outside of the Thunderbird Motel – note the sign, 8/22/1968)

Mickey Mantle would not disappoint Yankees or Twins fans for that matter, in what would be The Mick’s final game played at Metropolitan Stadium.  In fact, in his very last at-bat at Metropolitan Stadium (as seen towards the end of the youtube video), Mickey pinch-hits in the top of the 9th, down 3-0 with nobody on, facing Jim Merritt, who he had homered twice off of earlier in the month, and smacks his 16th HR of the 1968 season, a solo-shot, the 534th HR of his career.  He would hit just 2 more HR’s as his career ends a few weeks later.

mickeys_last_AB_at_metropolitan_stadium(Mickey steps on plate after homering in his last AB at Metropolitan Stadium, 8/22/1968)

The surroundings have changed, while the ghostly structure of the Thunderbird remains.  The following panoramic photo shows the Motel’s present location in relation to the Mall of America:

tb_pan_4(Mall of America on left, the old Thunderbird on right, 6/16/2016)

In-between the Mall of America and the old Thunderbird Motel, sits the IKEA store, which takes up the old location of the Met Center where the North Stars played from 1967 to 1993.

ikea_site_of_old_met_center(6/16/2016, The IKEA store, and note the street sign, “Thunderbird Rd” which leads to the parking lot for the old Thunderbird Motel location)

Thunderbird_Hotel_Near_Met_Center_large(The Thunderbird Motel advertising of the late 1960’s)

totem_pole_ad_from_1969_twins_program

(Ad from a 1969 Twins program for the “Totem Pole” bar at the Thunderbird Motel)

As you can see from the above advertisement from 1969, for the “Totem Pole” bar, political correctness was still several years into the future.

About a year ago, I had hatched a plan to replay the 1965 All-Star game (my 1965 APBA Baseball replay is currently heading into the month of June), by renting a room at the Ramada, and with a view of the Mall of America where Met Stadium once stood.  With the Thunderbird Motel/Ramada’s impending demise, I’m looking into a back-up plan …

tb_stained_glass_peek_1

tb16(Photos taken June 16th, 2016)

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2 thoughts on “The Thunderbird Motel, The Mick and #534 … Bloomington, MN

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