Archive for April, 2008

MOA Expansion Cost vs New Twins Stadium Cost

The latest numbers on the Twins stadium:

Cost: $544.4 million (including site acquisition and infrastructure)
Public financing: $392 million from a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County
Private financing: $152.4 million from the Twins

Those are ballpark figures (*ba DUM bum*). I also read $522/$387/130 + about $5/year for naming rights. Looks like the more recent the estimates, the higher all figures are.

The latest numbers on the MOA expansion:

Cost: $1.9-2.1 billion
Public financing: $371 million from a TBD sales/food/lodging tax in Bloomington
Private financing: $1.5-1.8 billion

Again, costing varies depending on the date of the article. Here’s what you get in Phase II of the MOA. Phase I puports to bring $1.8 billion/yr to the city of Bloomington. Slightly off topic, I wonder how this will affect the Waterpark of America.

Part of the hang up here is the financing of the parking ramp to the tune of $186-$204 million. The parking ramp funding will certainly have implications for whatever large projects follow it (like a Vikings Stadium).

But… just look at the disparity in public vs private financing. The only direct comparison of benefit I turned up in my cursory research is that the state expects to collect $10 million/year from ballpark-related sales and player income taxes. The MOA pays $55 million/year in state and local taxes.

Tell me how the relative cost of taxpayer burden is worth what the venture brings to the region (yes, I know it costs me personally about $30/year for the Twins stadium). I’ll add in my argument for the social and cultural benefit of having a common cause that unites us.

Maybe I should wait to see how they go about approving the tax in Bloomington before I come to a conclusion. Maybe the residents will get a choice in the matter.

[Hennepin County/Twins Ballpark Fact Sheet (pdf)]

Minnesota Mullet Contest

Brady ArnesonI had no idea there was such a thing, much less that it’s ongoing, or that members of the same family keep winning.

It may be a fashion no-no, but Brady Arneson wears his mullet with pride.

The 3-year-old Red Wing hockey player recently took first place in the 2008 Minnesota Mullet Contest put on by Hockey Moms Magazine.

Brady’s business in the front, party in the back style is family tradition. His older brother, Blake, won the same award in 2005….

“They had that nice baby hair that we didn’t want to cut off,” [Brady and Blake’s father] Scott said. “But we’re going to cut it off pretty soon and cool him down for the summer.”

I have two things to say.

  1. We all like to be good at something, but is this a competition you really take pride in winning?
  2. That poor child’s parents did that to him.

Where does it stop?!

Photo courtesy of Cody Buckalew/Republican Eagle.

More Underage Drinkers Make The News.

1beer.jpgI’m not really convinced that minors are actually drinking more as I am convinced it’s being reported in the news more frequently. 

From the Star Tribune: 76 cited for underage drinking at St. Paul party
 “Eight to 10 officers converged on the bash about 12:15 a.m. as part of the police department’s ZAP (Zero Adult Providers) program, police spokesman Peter Panos said.

Unlike the busts often carried out by the multiagency patrols near the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Saturday’s crackdown was not a spontaneous event, but a result of advance tips and planning.”  *emphasis mine.

I have a few concerns and questions on this topic. 

1) They knew about the party in advance and didn’t bust it until after midnight?

 This reeks to me of a publicity stunt and, if true, it seems reckless. It’s possible the party had just started, but that wasn’t mentioned.

2) Does anyone really think that minors are partying more today than in years past?

Metromix Twin Cities Debuts

metromix twin cities

Metromix Twin Cities. Any minute now. Probably tomorrow (Wednesday).

The Metromix network already operates in a number of cities. I’ve always gotten the impression that it was pretty popular in Chicago and maybe in New York, but other than that hadn’t heard much about it. Metromix Twin Cities is “mixed locally” by KARE11, though it looks exactly the same as all the other Metromix sites.

The premise is it’s your go-to site for entertainment/stuff to do. They cover restaurants, bars and clubs, events, music, movies and tv. So “stuff to do” doesn’t necessarily mean “places to go.”

Content

They’ve got a calendar like everyone else, though they do highlight “Metromix Picks.” What I like here is for each event listing they’ve got a map of nearby things in various categories. So if you’re looking to go to tomorrow night’s Twins game against the White Sox or “Show us your Mussels!” at Barbette, you can see what restaurants, bars and clubs, movie theaters, shopping, and theaters are nearby. Helps you plan other aspects of your evening, maybe provides a landmark or two, might even give you that “Oh, that’s where that is!” moment.

All the movie and tv stuff is syndicated. A lot of the music stuff is as well. Nothing new and exciting there.

They have reviews of local restaurants (I like the accompanying photo galleries), “things to do” gimmicky stories, and a Suburban Spotlight feature.

The part that I hate the most is the Video/Photo section, halfway down the center of the main page. The photos are full of twenty-somethings in downtown bars like drink. And then the videos. The videos are straight out of Access Hollywood. With the cuts and the zooms and the graphics and the music and the hostess. Kill me now.

Features

Users can submit reviews of CDs, movies, and tv shows. Standard range of per-story tools like emailing, sharing via a bunch of services, bookmarking, and something called “add to playlist” which I mistakenly assumed meant you could create some sort of playlist because I first noticed it while looking at a CD review. Wrong. It just means you… make a list. Doesn’t seem to be any more to it than that. Maybe it’s your favorites list? The FAQ calls it a “social playlist” and suggests you “[b]uild your play list to match your plans for the weekend.”

Speaking of the FAQ, this part caught my eye:

Q: Do I have to sign my life away to view the site?
A: No registration is necessary to view the content on the site. Registering is only required to post written reviews and upload pictures and such. And of course you can sign up for rss feeds for up-to-date info sent directly to you.

“Sign up” for RSS feeds? I’m being nitpicky here, but that’s not quite how that works. That on top of the whole “we’re impossibly cool and we’re going to keep telling you until you believe it” vibe. Blech. Although, to their credit, there is some granularity in the RSS feeds so you can choose which content you want to receive.

Verdict

I like that it’s “Metromix Twin Cities” and not “Minneapolis” or “Minneapolis Saint Paul” or “Minneapolis-St. Paul” or whatever.

Looking at the more mature Chicago and New York sites, it looks like the TC version could evolve as content develops. The fact that it could possibly wander away a little from its cookie cutter implementation is a good thing. I’ll keep an eye on it for a little bit only because I know some of the writers.

It’s competing against SotanLIFE which has the benefit of being by the people for the people; City Pages which, crusty as it is, has been doing this for a long while; Citysearch which just plain sucks even if Molly Priesmeyer is the editor; and vita.mn which has all of the above except the obnoxious video with more original content and local flair and with strong emphasis on its user features (which are pretty cool).

A little bit of neato factor in some of the features isn’t enough to make the site as a whole compelling. They’ll be getting the hard pimpage from KARE11. They better have some seriously awesome, exclusive content to go with it.

[also see Ed Kohler’s sneak peek]

St. Paul: Your Ad Here

There is a story in the Pioneer Press about how St. Paul is making “public-private partnerships” to make ends meet:

Also, a summertime “Movies in the Park” program is sponsored by Comcast, and the city’s graffiti-eradication program comes courtesy of Wagner, the power paint-sprayer company. Even this newspaper sponsors the city’s bookmobile.

What’s next? A swing set sponsored by McDonald’s? Where is the line?

While I don’t really share the outrage of the Pioneer Press (advertising is already everywhere else, plus it’s an excellent source of non-tax revenue), I also kind of wonder where the line is.

Uncle Ben’s Rice Park?

B&J’s Free Cone Day: TODAY

benjerrys.JPGEvery year Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream celebrates by providing free ice cream cones. Today, my friends, is that day.

From their email announcement:
“It all began 30 years ago, Ben & Jerry scooped up free ice cream all day to thank the community for supporting them in their first year. Now it’s an annual tradition at many of our scoop shops around the world.”

According to the site, all but two of our local B&J’s are participating (not Shakopee or MSP Airport).

Brave New Workshop 50th Anniversary Show: Skip It

bnw50th.jpgIt seems over the last year and a half I’ve made it to every show the BNW has staged, so I thought it worthwhile to by the newly-offered Punchy Pass. $160 for 8 tickets, a dollar or two off at the concession stand, and a few other perks.

The fact that the BNW has been in existence for 50 years is remarkable. There are not a whole lot of things that aren’t giant corporations or natural wonders that have that kind of staying power (it’s the third oldest theater of any kind in the Twin Cities). I do very much enjoy the sketch comedy format and who doesn’t love political satire and making fun of the suburbs? So I really do loves me some BNW and I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to attend. Buy a 4-punch or 8-punch pass, use your MPR 2-for-1 discount, come in a group of 12 or more, pay full price, whatever.

I used four of my punches to take myself, my girlfriend, and two visiting out-of-towners to see their anniversary show, The Brave New Workshop at 50: Old Enough to Know Better. My friends liked it a lot. I was a little worried that there’d be a lot of local references that they wouldn’t get, but that wasn’t the case.

Oh, jeez, it pains me to say this.

While the reappearance of the Rapebot 3000 and Lauren Anderson in a burqa were hilarious, this was my least favorite of all the BNW shows I’ve seen. Ever. For two reasons. One, because I’d seen some of it before. Two, because I just have little or no context or frame of reference for political satire from the 60s (or the 70s, the 80s, and a good chunk of the 90s).

Man, that was hard.

Fortunately for the BNW, the show is playing well; they’ve extended the run into June. They’ve got a 50th Anniversary mini-site and you can win free tickets for submitting your BNW story.

If you’ve never been there before, I strongly encourage you to go. Because I think everyone should go see all their shows. But if you’re a more seasoned patron… wait until the next one.

Capping and Trading in Minnesota

The Star Tribune has a story about how our state legislature likes the idea of a regional cap-and-trade system.

I fully endorse the idea. If you’re unfamiliar with how it all works, the Twin Cities Daily Planet has a good primer:

Cap and trade systems are appealing for two main reasons. First, unlike traditional regulatory schemes, they are market-based. Cap and trade systems allow economic forces to dictate where emissions cuts will occur, rather than relying on government mandates. The U.S. has had a cap and trade system to deal with acid rain-causing pollutants since the 1980s, and has achieved deep reductions at far lower costs than had been anticipated. Second, cap and trade is more palatable politically than a direct carbon tax, which would have roughly the same effect.

Arguments against such a system (and global warming in general) are in the comments of the Strib article. Here’s one that raises a relevant point:

Does anyone think that the cost of purchasing the carbon credits won’t be passed along in the form of higher prices and then the carbon producing entities shifted to India or China which already have signnificant cost advantages? This is the dumbest idea to come down the pike in a long time. All in the name of eliminating a problem that doesn’t exist.

This is a fair question. Slave labor, child labor, cheap labor, all of it was outlawed in the United States and then moved elsewhere. While a cap and trade system will have the intended local outcome (due to the free market and a craving in the business community for clear regulation—if regulation is necessary—as opposed to governmental hemming and hawing, which is when businesses pick up and leave), there is a fear it will simply shift the problem out of sight.

And I’m not going to say some pollution won’t go overseas. But in most cases, if they’re not already making it overseas, they’re not likely to start. It’s generally cheaper for a company to produce close to the raw materials and end users, both of which are generally in the United States, if not the Midwest specifically. Add to that the cost of scouting new locations overseas, buying land, building new facilities, and all the other work that goes into off-shoring, and compare that with the relatively easy task of retrofitting current facilities. The off-shoring argument falls flat, I think.

So, while I disagree with our Republican governor and our DLF legislature on many issues, I’m glad they’re moving forward with this system. I really do think the clear regulations will attract business (and obviously our pro-business governor must as well), and we can add green jobs and green living to the long list of what makes our state so wonderful.

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Every place I looked for the Citypages “UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM: Best of the Twin Cities” issue since it came out was depleted, but my co-habitator brought one home last night and I was finally able to spend a few minutes hop-scotching through it during my break at work this morning. I had a disgruntled chuckle over the winners for best places to meet singles in the area:

Best place to meet gay men: The Minneapolis Eagle/Bolt…at the bar.

Best place to meet gay women: Pi…at the bar.

Best place to meet straight men: Dave and Buster’s…at the bar/arcade.

Best place to meet straight women: Bolder Options…at a non-profit organization for mentoring at-risk teens training for running or cycling races.

What this says to me is that homosexuals and straight men all hang out at the bar. But straight men, if you’re looking for an ideal woman you won’t find her at the bar, you will find her exercising her good will and maternal instincts at a non-profit, as well as exercising her body. So BO is sure to be a goldmine of fit women who don’t party all the much. (But mentors do get together for “low-key happy hours.”)

Are these Bolder Options single women the same ones who are supposed to go to the “adult Chuck E. Cheese” to find single men? Well, I suppose a man who drinks and plays video games at the bar in his free time is the epitome of heterosexual maleness, right? No?

“Unconventional wisdom?” I’m a big fan of Citypages, but the juxtaposition of the four categories seems a bit insulting to both genders and sexualities to me. I’m going to go drown my annoyance in a nice, tall glass of 5k.

Birthday eat-out blowout!

Crescent Moon

Yesterday was my birthday, and sometimes on your Birthday you get to go out to eat. I was able to get food from four places yesterday, which is something I don’t do very often. Here is where I went.

Brownie’s Restaurant, in Northeast for breakfast. 2 eggs, Corned Beef Hash, Hash Browns and toast. Pretty good stuff, the staff at Brownies is always really friendly and the few times I went there the food was good. Of course living in Northeast we don’t go out for breakfast much. Brownies – 2510 Kenzie Ter St.,Minneapolis.

Whitey’s World Famous Saloon, this is a place I hit at least once a month and this time I brought my Mom there to show here what it was all about. I had the Roast Beef Sandwhich and we had some Walley strips for an appetizer. I never have had a bad food experience at Whitey’s. Make sure to have a Greyhound with their freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Whitey’s – 400 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis.

Pizza in the evening! We were having family over in the evening, and what is easier then Pizza. In the last few months, after people mentioning it to me I finally tried the Afghani Pizza at Crescent Moon Restaurant. Sometimes it’s spicier then other times, but always tasty. We also ordered two pizzas from Snap Pizza, for those who didn’t want the spicy pizza. Snap! has pretty solid Pizza, not my favorite in town but good and way better then Dominoes. Crescent Moon 2339 Central Ave NE. Minneapolis – Snap! – 2851 Johnson St. NE Minneapolis.

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