With the weather cold enough to make a penguin shiver, the Metrodome in Minneapolis has become a round-the-clock, climate-controlled baseball operation.
Kansas University knows all too well.
The Jayhawks started a last-minute doubleheader with South Dakota State at 1:30 this morning, one of more than a dozen college games to be played in the downtown Minneapolis indoor venue this weekend.
KU also will play a single game with the Jackrabbits at 3:30 a.m. Sunday in the Metrodome, home of baseball's Minnesota Twins and the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.
The scheduling was done last-minute by KU coach Ritch Price, who heard from a baseball friend that the Metrodome often opens its doors for college games. With the plans made so suddenly, there was no need for an early curfew for the players - the Jayhawks were bussing up to Minneapolis on Friday night and getting to the Metrodome just before the game.
"Our guys are ecstatic to be able to play in a major-league stadium," Price said Friday night.
Certainly, there wasn't much choice in time slots for the two schools to play, and there obviously was a lot of desire to get baseball in this weekend. The series was originally scheduled to be played at Hoglund Ballpark, but the weather made that impossible.
But Kansas was able to make it work anyway, though the game times - and out-of-state location for both schools - might make it the most bizarre scheduling in KU baseball history.
"We're trying to become a Top 25 program, and we would've taken a step backward if we didn't play this weekend," Price said. "We'll play anyone, anywhere, anytime."
Besides the KU games, the Metrodome will be plenty busy. The University of Minnesota is holding two practices there this weekend, and more than a dozen games featuring a number of Division-II and Division-III teams - including Minnesota State-Mankato, University of Mary, Graceland and Augustana - will be going on day and night.
"We're a 24-hour operation," said Bobbi Ellenberg, event manager for the Metropolitan Sports Facility Commission at the Metrodome. "We've got baseball anytime we can set the field up."
The improptu series means KU will play in two different major-league stadiums this year. The Metrodome is home to the Twins until a new ballpark opens in 2010, and the Jayhawks will play Missouri in a nonconference game at Kauffman Stadium on April 25.