History of Sports in Minneapolis
Sports in Minnesota include professional teams in all major sports, Olympic Games contenders and medalists, especially in the Winter Olympics, collegiate teams in major and small-school conferences and associations, and active amateur teams and individual sports. The State of Minnesota has six professional sports teams (MLB, NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL and MLS), and the University of Minnesota is part of the oldest major college conference still running (the Big Ten).
Major Professional Sports
The Minnesota Twins are a Major League Baseball (MLB) team that moved to Minnesota in 1961 from Washington D.C., where they were known as the Washington Senators. The Twins played their home games at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington from 1961–1981 and the Metrodome in Minneapolis from 1982–2009, before moving to Target Field in downtown Minneapolis in 2010. They have been to the World Series in 1965, 1987, and 1991, winning in 1987 and 1991. The Twins have won the their American League division (currently the Central) 13 times. Notable former Twins include Bob Allison, Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek, Torii Hunter, Jim Kaat, Harmon Killebrew, Joe Mauer, Paul Molitor, Jack Morris, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Tony Oliva, Kirby Puckett, Brad Radke, Johan Santana and Frank Viola.
In the late 1800s, there was a Major League Baseball team based out of Saint Paul called the Saints; the team moved to Chicago in 1900 and are now the Chicago White Sox. The current St. Paul Saints are an American Association team. The team was formerly of the Northern League. The team was founded in 1993 as an inaugural team in the league. They won the Northern League Championship in 1993, 1995, 1996, and 2004. The Saints won its first American Association Championship in 2019. Notable former players include Ila Borders, Kevin Millar, Minnie Miñoso, Jack Morris, Darryl Strawberry and Jason Varitek. The Saints play their home games at CHS Field in downtown St. Paul and are not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
The Minneapolis Millers was associated with a variety of professional minor league teams from 1884 to 1960. Several teams went by the nickname, but the most prominent of these was the team in the American Association from 1902 to 1960. The Millers won nine pennants in the Association during their fifty-nine years. Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Carl Yastrzemski were among some future major leaguers who played for the Millers. The Millers played first in Athletic Park and later Nicollet Park and Metropolitan Stadium.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are a National Basketball Association (NBA) team founded as an expansion team in 1989. The Timberwolves play their home games at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. The Wolves, as they are called by fans, played their inaugural season in the Metrodome. The Timberwolves have yet to appear in an NBA Finals series but made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2004. Notable current and former players include Jimmy Butler, Sam Cassell, Kevin Garnett, Tom Gugliotta, Kevin Love, Stephon Marbury, Sam Mitchell, Terry Porter, Isaiah Rider, Derrick Rose, Ricky Rubio, Malik Sealy, Latrell Sprewell, Wally Szczerbiak, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
The Minnesota Lynx are a Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) team founded in 1999. They play their home games at Target Center. The Lynx have won four WNBA Championships, doing so during the 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 seasons. Notable current and former players include Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Napheesa Collier, Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore, Katie Smith and Lindsey Whalen.
The Minneapolis Lakers were an NBA team that was moved from Detroit to Minneapolis in 1947. During their stay in Minneapolis, the Lakers won the 1947–48 National Basketball League (NBL) championship, then joined four other NBL teams in joining the Basketball Association of America (BAA), where they won the 1948–49 BAA championship. After the 1948–49 season, the NBL and the BAA merged to become the NBA. The Lakers then won five championships in six years, winning in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954. They are considered to be the NBA's first "dynasty." Notable players included George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Vern Mikkelsen, Slater Martin, Clyde Lovellette and Elgin Baylor. In 1960, the Lakers moved to California where they became the Los Angeles Lakers.
Minnesota has also been the home of a trio of American Basketball Association teams over the years - the Minnesota Muskies (1967-68), Minnesota Pipers (1968-69) and Minnesota Ripknees (2006-08).
The Minnesota Vikings are a National Football League (NFL) team founded as an expansion team in 1961. The Vikings played their home games at Metropolitan Stadium from 1961–1981, the Metrodome from 1982–2013 and TCF Bank Stadium (now called Huntington Bank Stadium) on the campus of the University of Minnesota from 2014-2015, before moving to U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis in 2016. The Vikings have won one NFL Championship in 1969, a year before the AFL-NFL Merger. The Vikings were the first team to appear in four Super Bowls. Their last appearance was Super Bowl XI against the Oakland Raiders (who were coached by Austin native John Madden) in 1977. Notable former players include Cris Carter, Chris Doleman, Carl Eller, Brett Favre, Chuck Foreman, Steve Hutchinson, Paul Krause, Jim Marshall, Randall McDaniel, Warren Moon, Randy Moss, Alan Page, Adrian Peterson, John Randle, Scott Studwell, Fran Tarkenton, Mick Tingelhoff, Ron Yary and Gary Zimmerman.
Before the Vikings, Minnesota also hosted the Minneapolis Marines/Red Jackets and the Duluth Kelleys/Eskimos. Three players who played for Duluth are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Duluth teams played at Athletic Park, while the Minneapolis teams played at Nicollet Park. Minnesota has played host to several arena/indoor football teams. The Minnesota Fighting Pike played at the Target Center in the Arena Football League in 1996, while the Duluth-Superior Lumberjacks (1999-2000), Minnesota Purple Rage(2000) and Bemidji Axemen (2014-2015) played in the Indoor Football League.
The Minnesota Vixen are a Women's Football Alliance (WFA) team founded in 1999. The Vixen are the longest continuously operating women's American football team in the United States.
The Minnesota Wild are a National Hockey League (NHL) team that began play in 2000. The Wild play their home games at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. The Wild have made the NHL Playoffs in 10 of their 19 seasons, but have not appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals. In the 2002–03 season, the team made its first Stanley Cup playoffs appearance, making a surprising run to the Western Conference Finals. Notable players include Niklas Backstrom, Andrew Brunette, Brent Burns, Devan Dubnyk, Matt Dumba, Marian Gaborik, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Brian Rolston, Eric Staal, Ryan Suter, Wes Walz and Jason Zucker.
The Minnesota North Stars were an NHL team that was part of the 1967 NHL Expansion and played their home games at Met Center in Bloomington. They appeared in the 1981 and 1991 Stanley Cup Finals, but did not win either one of them. In 1993, the North Stars moved to Dallas, where they became the Dallas Stars. Notable players include Neal Broten, Brian Bellows, Jon Casey, Dino Ciccarelli, Dave Gagner, Curt Giles, Bill Goldsworthy, Derian Hatcher, Mike Modano, Bobby Smith and Gump Worsley.
The Minnesota Fighting Saints was the name of two professional teams based in St. Paul that played in the World Hockey Association (WHA). The first team was one of the WHA's original 12 franchises, playing from 1972 to 1976. The second team was relocated from Cleveland, and played for part of the 1976–77 season. Neither edition of the franchise completed its final season of play. Among the Saints' notable players in their brief history were Mike Antonovich, Jack Carlson, Wayne Connelly, Mike Curran, Paul Holmgren, Dave Keon and John McKenzie.
The Minnesota Moose was an International Hockey League team based out of St. Paul created following the departure of the North Stars. The Moose played its games at the St. Paul Civic Center from 1994 to 1996.
The Minnesota Whitecaps are a National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) team founded in 2004. The Whitecaps play their home games at TRIA Rink in downtown St. Paul. The Whitecaps are the only team to have won both a Clarkson Cup and an Isobel Cup championship, the two major championships in professional women's hockey in North America, winning the Clarkson Cup in 2010 as a member of the WWHL and the Isobel Cup in 2019 in their inaugural season in the NWHL.
The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Eveleth, on the Iron Range.
Minnesota United FC is a Major League Soccer (MLS) team that began play in 2017. The Loons, as they are called by fans, play their home games at Allianz Field in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul. For its first two seasons, the club played its home games at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Two players received league-wide honors at the conclusion of the 2019 season - Ike Opara was named MLS Defender of the Year and Vito Mannone was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
Before joining MLS, Minnesota United played in the North American Soccer League (NASL) from 2010-2016, with its home games at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The club was known as the Minnesota Stars for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons.
The Minnesota Thunder was a United Soccer League (USL) team founded in 1990. The team played its home games at the National Sports Center (1992-2003 2008-2009) and James Griffin Stadium in St. Paul (2004-2007). The Thunder captured the 1999 USL Championship.
Prior to the Minnesota Thunder forming, Minnesota had two former professional soccer teams. The Minnesota Kicks played the state's first professional soccer game in May 1976 to a crowd of over 20,000 at Metropolitan Stadium. The team survived for six seasons competing in the NASL before folding after the 1981 season. After two years without a team, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers were moved to Minnesota becoming the Minnesota Strikers in 1984. The team played one season in the NASL before transferring to the Major Indoor Soccer League. The team disbanded in 1988 after the 1987–88 season.
The Minnesota Lightning was a United Soccer League women's team founded in 2006. The team played its home games at the National Sports Center. The Lightning folded after the 2009 season.