Five at 8 – 1/27/10: Stadium season begins

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1) I’m on MPR this morning with Cathy Wurzer (8:20a.m.), trying out the idea of an every-Wednesday-morning chat. Here’s a leftover from New Orleans that may or may not come up: I was riding in the airport shuttle to the New Orleans Airport on Monday when a man from New York, wearing Vikings team garb, asked me what I thought the prospects were of a new Vikings stadium. “I think the game they lost Sunday cost them a new stadium,” I said, citing my vast knowledge of how to guess. It’s true, of course, that there’s no money for anything and politicians — many politicians anyway — don’t like the idea of cutting social programs while building new stadiums for sports teams. With a trip to the Super Bowl, maybe — maybe — the wave of good feeling would provide some political cover to build the stadium and keep the Vikings here.

The man, who flies to Minnesota for all Vikings games, looked at me as if I was crazy. “Didn’t you see all the money that came into this city this weekend?” he asked. And, of course, I had since much of it was mine.

“Sure, but New Orleans is a tourist town; Minneapolis isn’t,” I said. “New Orleans in January is a lot more inviting to the outside world than Minneapolis in January. Plus, there’s no guarantee the Vikings will be going to an NFC championship game again anytime soon.” Still, it’s hard to argue with the dough that was flowing into New Orleans this weekend. Now, there are plenty of economic studies that show that stadiums do not bring significant economic activity to an area. But that’s an argument that doesn’t hold up in New Orleans right now. New Orleans, though, is different.

So it may come down to a game of poker and the willingness to call the Vikings’ bluff if they decide to take a stand on a new stadium as a condition for staying in Minnesota after next year, when their lease at the Metrodome is up.

A trip to Louisiana — and many other states — is an eye-opening experience. In Minnesota, politicians don’t like cutting programs for the poor and sick while building football stadiums. It’s embarrassing to many of them. Other states’ politicians don’t have that problem. Mention Los Angeles as a likely destination, and most people — people here — will point out that California is broke and cutting services. How can it afford to make a play for a sports team (for the record, currently there is no public financing in Los Angeles for a Vikings stadium)? The answer is easy. The politicians there aren’t as easily embarrassed by the alleged unfairness as the ones here. Is that good? Bad? That’s for others to decide.

But our view of the world outside of Minnesota usually applies Minnesota sensibilities. There aren’t many places that have Minnesota sensibilities.

Discuss.

In other news, the St. Paul Saints want a new stadium.


Who should get a publicly financed stadium first?(survey software)

2) Because of the phase-out of analog TV signals, we are now becoming the invisible 7 billion people to the rest of the universe. Frank Drake, the founder of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, told Royal Society meeting in London that “digital transmissions are effectively ‘gagging’ the planet.” In the old days — before last year — analog signals escaped into space, hurtling Mork and Mindy reruns back into time, to be discovered by intelligent life, who would come find us to learn more about us. Now — extraterrestrially speaking — we’ve decided to just stay home and wash our hair.

3) This is another reason why most of the out-of-towners who tried to analyze the Massachusetts Senate vote last week got it wrong. A Massachusetts Republican — in this case Scott Brown — isn’t like a Republican in other states. Oh, and this is what a bipartisan approach looks like


Toting a yellow legal pad, Brown talked policy with (Boston) Mayor Thomas M. Menino over a breakfast of eggs, hash browns, and turkey sausage at the Parkman House. He then drove his signature pickup truck to Roxbury for the gathering with clergy members he dubbed “legends,” saying “they’ve been around fighting the fight forever.”

“It was important, I felt, to come and reach out to the leaders of this community and tell them about who I am and not be defined by anybody else, but let them look in my eye and ask honest and frank questions,” Brown said, flanked by leaders of the Black Ministerial Alliance and the Boston TenPoint Coalition at a press conference in Roxbury, a community that voted overwhelmingly for his opponent. “While we may not agree on everything, I think we’re going to find more common ground than not.”

Reaching out to the “other side” is not a weakness… in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, a new NPR poll shows most people would vote for a Republican for Congress if the election were held today.

4) If you could pick 100 objects to describe the history of humanity, what 100 would you choose? The BBC has started a series of 100 15-minute shows. First item: The hand axe.

5) The Back Nine. (h/t: Julia Schrenkler)

Bonus: Scoreboard update from the official girl’s basketball team of News Cut. Kelley (Silver Bay) 57. Wrenshall: 48. Most points scored by the Wrenshall Wrens this season.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Tonight President Obama will address a Congress that seems more divided than ever. Yet he’ll need support from both sides of the aisle to accomplish his program. How could our leaders promote a spirit of bipartisanship in government?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A New York Times series on America’s water supply is raising serious concerns about the amount of unregulated chemicals in the country’s drinking water and the EPA’s outdated monitoring system.

Second hour: Midmorning finds out how kids’ increasingly savvy experience with gadgets is impacting their creativity, multitasking ability, and making them unique from generations before and after.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: New York Times columnist David Brooks previews the president’s State of the Union address.

Second hour: MPR special report: “Civil War Kids: Young Somalis in Minnesota.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A preview of tonight’s State of the Union address.

Second hour: . Temple Grandin talks about animals, autism, and the new HBO movie about her.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Part three of Laura Yuen’s series on Somalis in Minnesota.