Damage to the Metrodome is worse than first imagined, so the plan is for the Vikings and Bears to play … outdoors … at TCF bank Stadium at the U of M Monday night. Brian Murphy in the PiPress writes: “University associate athletics director Scott Ellison said the university plans to hire up to 400 workers to clear snow from the field and seating bowl. There are four- to five-foot drifts on the east end of the Gophers’ football stadium and two- to three-foot drifts in the concourses. The Vikings have agreed to foot the bill for getting the stadium ready, which could range from $250,000 to $700,000. The U wants to have two eight-hour shifts of temporary workers per day to help with snow removal.”
And: “The university spent the day getting the water turned back on and bathrooms and concessions up and running, but, Ellison said, the stadium was built to host events into late November and is not prepared for sub-freezing or arctic conditions. He said the U is looking into ways to shield the open-air concession areas from the harsh conditions so pipes don’t burst.”
Of the actual game, the Chicago Sun-Times’ “Inside the Bears” blog says of the soon-to-be-Super Bowl champion Vikings (copyright Dan Cole of KFAN): “If neither Favre (shoulder) nor backup Tarvaris Jackson (toe) can go, the Vikings would use rookie Joe Webb, who is still nursing a sore hamstring injury. Jackson injured his toe against the Giants and his status is ‘in jeopardy.’ If Webb starts, it would be the third time this season the Bears have faced a third-string quarterback. … The Vikings are currently reviewing their options and are expected to sign another quarterback this week. ‘We have a list of about eight different names we’re going through,’ Frazier said.” Why am I thinking Marx Brothers farce here?
On a sort of brighter note, the Vikings’ quarterback over whom so much ink and electrons have been used this year did a good deed. Fox9’s Jeff Baillon reports: “Tyler Neddo’s heart was failing and in order to stay alive until he could get a transplant, he was put on a heart pump. While on the pump, he developed a blood clot and suffered a stroke. ‘He was paralyzed on the right side of his body and his speech was gone’, said Neddo’s father, Thor. While recovering from the stroke, his dog was hit by a car. How does a 13-year-old, or anyone, deal with so much distress at one time? ‘We thought that anything to kind of cheer him up would be important for his health,’ said Dr. Eric Adler.” What to do? Call Brett Favre. Or get Brett Favre to call Tyler Neddo: “[D]octors from Minnesota put out word on Facebook that it sure would be nice if Brett Favre, the man who made a career out of dramatic comebacks, called Neddo. Soon, hundreds of comments started coming in from around the country. Someone else was friends with someone connected to the New York Jets, where Favre played two years ago. The team sent Neddo some Favre souvenirs. And then, the day Neddo went into surgery for his new heart, a message was left on his dad’s cell phone from Favre.” The kid’s health is improving. Not enough to play quarterback Monday night, but improving.
Al Franken plays a little CYA by writing a piece for The Huffington Post explaining his vote for the so-called Bush tax cuts compromise: “Extending the excessive Bush tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires will explode our deficit over the next two years without doing anything to help our economy. I think it’s simply bad policy. But for Minnesota’s middle class, struggling to get by in a tough economy, there’s a lot in this bill that will really help: tax cuts for working families, a payroll tax holiday, energy tax credits, and the extension of Recovery Act initiatives that are already making a difference.”
Among the comments to Franken’s piece: “As we slide into further debt and things generally worsen, the democratic party will fracture because of this betrayal. It is not a ‘symbolic’ betrayal. It is substantive because, among other things, the democratic party has proven itself to be ineffectual. They had the WH, senate, and house and could not even stop the Bush era tax cuts. Talk about weak.” The base is not (at all) happy …
Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker may have kissed away his state’s chance at federal money for that high-speed rail dream, and all the skilled labor jobs that go with it, but the Twin Cities-to-Rochester link is still developing. The AP reports: “The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Intercity Passenger Rail Forum is recommending that the city of Rochester get $2 million for design and pre-engineering work for the proposed rail corridor. The group offered its recommendation Monday on how MnDOT should spend $26 million allocated by the state Legislature last year for high-speed rail.”
Bad third-quarter revenue numbers for Best Buy translated to a 15 percent drop in stock price Tuesday. Martin Moylan reports for MPR: “Disappointing sales of TVs, notebook computers and video games dragged down Best Buy’s third-quarter sales and profit. And that sent the consumer electronics retailer’s stock tumbling 15 percent. Best Buy’s quarterly net income fell about 4 percent to $217 million for the three months ending November 27. Sales at stores open at least 14 months — a key benchmark — dropped 5 percent. Best Buy’s disappointing sales and earnings report came as overall retail sales for the nation rose nearly 1 percent in November. That was the fifth straight monthly increase and it’s raising hopes that consumers will boost the economy in coming months.”
One analyst says he “doesn’t see Best Buy distinguishing itself right now with any product line that really matters to consumers. ‘The categories that you need to be in — Best Buy just doesn’t have enough of a competitive positioning to really make it stand out,’ [he] said. ’Tablet computing, smartphones — Best Buy has done an OK job building out its assortment there. But I have worries about where it goes from here.’ [He] wonders if wireless carriers will beef up their own network of stores, eroding Best Buy’s booming mobile phone business. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans retail analyst Dave Heupel says Best Buy is too focused on Windows-based computers and devices, when consumers are increasingly interested in Apple products.”
The invariably informative foody website the Heavy Table has a kind of one-stop shopping piece up, by Jason Walker, on the soon, the new and the deceased among local restaurants. He says, for example: “The Kingfield neighborhood of Minneapolis is getting its latest addition, this time in gastropub The Lowbrow. Owners Heather Bray, an Ike’s veteran, and chef Jodi Ayres, formerly of Moose and Sadie’s, expect to open around Jan. 4. ‘Jodi will be creating amazing scratch comfort food that’s tavern-focused, like burgers and fries, chili and nachos,’ Bray said. Brunch will consist of what Bray called ‘Wisconsin-style’ hash browns with cheese and onions, pancakes, and scrambles. Ayres is using her contacts from working at the Birchwood and the Wedge Co-op to create a local supply chain from the likes of Fischer Farms, Larry Schultz, Riverbend Farm, and Thousand Hills Cattle Co. The beer-and-wine-only drink menu will include strictly local brews. ‘We kind of imagined it being one of those Wisconsin-style bars that are hard to find in Minneapolis,’ Bray said.” There is, of course, a reason they’re hard to find here.
It was all a terrible misunderstanding. Really. The 52-year-old postal worker (why not “mailman”?) who took what he thought was a dare and retrieved the office mail for a 21-year-old woman … naked … never imagined the police would get involved. The Whitefish Bay Now, in Whitefish Bay, Wis., says: “The 52-year-old Fox Point man, who was arrested at the North Shore Post Office, 5600 Lydell Ave., on Dec. 9, admitted he had delivered the mail completely naked and that he was sorry and it was a stupid thing to do. The man said he told a 21-year-old female employee in that office that he would retrieve the mail from the business’ post office box — something the woman usually does — and deliver it to her naked because she seemed ‘stressed out’ and he wanted to ‘cheer her up and make her laugh.’ ”