Judging the Vikings stadium deal (5×8 – 5/11/11)

1)THE REVIEWS ARE IN

The Star Tribune hates the idea of a suburb getting the Minnesota Vikings. Didn’t a suburb have the Vikings before Minneapolis? In its editorial today, the Strib defends its city…


In return for the more reasonable Minneapolis investment, taxpayers would have a new downtown stadium that would boost the region’s most important central business district, and the city would complete the much-needed renovation of Target Center while paying off the arena’s debt and reducing property taxes 2 percent in the process.

The Arden Hills math should be a deal-breaker for the state Legislature. In many cases, suburban NFL stadium locations are less expensive than downtown alternatives — not several hundred million dollars more costly

It may be a fair point. But everyone has known for nearly a decade that the Vikings’ lease was up this year at the Metrodome. By waiting until the last minute, the odds grew that whatever stadium deal came out was going to reflect who was in the driver’s seat. Mayor R.T. Rybak had plenty of time to put together a proposal for the team, but he went with his two-minute offense and only trotted out his plan a few weeks before the end of a legislative session that’s been going since the beginning of the year.

Ramsey County authorities have certainly stuck their necks out there with a plan that soaks people who may have no interest in football. But they stuck them out there, courted the team, made the deal, and now will have to live with the political consequences, if there are any.

Nothing prevented Minneapolis, the Star Tribune’s owners (who own property that likely would’ve been part of a stadium deal) from doing the same thing.

Who knows, maybe they still will. Anoka County thought it once had a deal with the Vikings, only to see the team wooed instead by the bright lights of the big city.

In its editorial today, the Pioneer Press suggests Arden Hills could be playing the sucker’s role in a dance with Minneapolis…


We agreed with Bennett and Ortega and the board in February that the county should explore the TCAAP site as a possible location. It is the last large piece of undeveloped land in Ramsey County and it’s time the site turned the page. It appears that the Hennepin County board is not willing to raise a tax for a second stadium. That could put the TCAAP site in the spotlight as stadium negotiations and the legislative session approach a climax.

We don’t see the harm if the Arden Hills option turns out to have been a bargaining chip to improve the deal in Minneapolis. We are concerned that a “deal” may be dropped in our laps without sufficient time to analyze it. Ramsey County could be an excellent home for the Minnesota Vikings. Such a project could help the region by redeveloping a once-polluted site and improving our highway system.

That’s an odd new take on the value of publicly financed football stadiums — a mechanism to improve highways.

2) THIS IS WHAT FREE SPEECH LOOKS LIKE

mosque_sign.jpg

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean a lot if all it does is protect the popular expression. This is what it looks like near Buffalo, New York, where man objects to a mosque next door. He doesn’t object to the religion per se. He objects to its bright lights and the mosque’s refusal to put up a six-foot-high fence to screen its property.

“I would really think it’s an incitement of hatred against Muslims,” a member of the mosque’s board said.

“The place is too close. I don’t care what people think. It doesn’t matter what people think,” the homeowner told the Buffalo News. “This is a way to get answers now. I get none from the town. The intent was to catch the eye of the people who I have a problem with.”

3) THE GRAND CANYON TOUR

Rocketman Yves Rossy has made his first flight in the U.S., flying over the Grand Canyon strapped to wings and a rocket motor.

4) THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP UP CLOSE

Tim Gihring, a volunteer in a public school in an impoverished Minneapolis neighborhood, couldn’t possibly have penned a more depressing commentary on the reality of public schools. Kids don’t care. Parents don’t care. And people are doing everything they can to pretend the only thing poor students lack is better teachers.


I had other students like him — boys who wrote poems to fathers who had died of bullets or drugs. They would often want me to write out their work for them, as they recited, since they were terrible at spelling. If I refused, they’d refuse to talk, as though I was being petty. They had nothing; couldn’t I, who had everything, do them this one thing?

When I asked them about their future, many would say they wanted to be millionaires, as if that was a career. One asked how much money I made as a journalist and laughed when I told him; he never took me seriously again.

In a sense, the reformers are right: Teachers are often the most important people in these kids’ lives — no one else is helping. But I felt these kids slipping from my grasp one by one, even when they were sitting right in front of me. Stronger forces were pulling us apart: homelessness, depression, in utero setbacks, lack of parents or computers or transportation. Everything that had nothing to do with school had everything to do with school. When we did make progress, when our eyes would meet and we would acknowledge a moment of achievement, it always felt ephemeral, in passing, as though we were glimpsing each other across a great and growing chasm.

It’s unlikely you’ll see Gihring in ads that’ve been unveiled to recruit teachers to replace the baby boomer teachers who are expected to retire soon. The Fargo Forum reports the ads are intended to show that one teacher can make a difference.

5) BRUSSEL-SPROUT-SIZE HAIL

Judging by last night’s coverage of the storms, my suggestion to use vegetables to characterize the size of hail — asparagus tips, for example — has not yet taken root. It’s always the same, golfballs and baseballs. Dale Connelly wonders why other sports are left out…


But I wonder – is that our entire athletico-spherical vocabulary? What about handballs? Raquetballs? I’ve never heard a weather forecaster try to parse relative hardness of hail, though it does vary. If your job is to encourage people to take cover, you would naturally go with the most impressive choice and baseballs and billiard balls are more motivational than tennis balls.

A lacrosse ball is smaller around (7.5 inches) than a baseball (9 inches), could offer a useful distinction, but you never hear meteorologists talk about “lacrosse ball sized hail’. I assume In England and India a handy frame of reference would be “Hail the size of cricket balls.” Try that over here and people would be confused. Cricket balls? Aren’t they very, very tiny?

The storm chasers, of course, were out…

TODAY’S QUESTION

A survey by Consumer Reports finds that 7.5 million Facebook users are under the network’s minimum age of 13. More than 5 million are under age 10. The survey also finds that millions of Americans have been victimized in some way via social networks. Today’s Question: What can be done to ensure the safety of young people online?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

This is the last 5×8 of the week. I’m burning up some vacation time tomorrow and Friday.

Meanwhile, we’re still in a membership drive so some of this programming has been previously broadcast. The uninterrupted versions can be found online.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Excerpts from conversations with three well-known musicians who have also written books.

Second hour: Revisiting Jane Eyre.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Both hours: Garrison Keillor, speaking Tuesday night at the annual University of Minnesota Libraries Annual Dinner.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Political chatter with NPR’s political editor.

Second hour: Trans-racial adoption.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - According to the latest jobs report, the number of people in the U.S. who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks is still quite high– 5.8 million. They make up about 43 percent of the country’s unemployed. Economists say that it used to be that the long term unemployed were people who could afford to stay out of work without grabbing the first thing offered. But with so many people hit by layoffs, there are lots of people in that boat for reasons beyond their control. Still, there are a few groups that are most likely to be unemployed long term: minorities, older workers, and people with low education levels. Baxter looks at some of the negative implications of long term unemployment for the individual and the broader economy. MPR’s Annie Baxter will report.

Pillsbury House Theater mounts a production of “In the Red And Brown Water” at the Guthrie. Actors say the play about a young female athlete caught on Katrina breaks theatrical stereotypes about African Americans. MPR’s Euan Kerr will report.