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What? Spending $155 million to renovate … Target Center?

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Minneapolis misses on Dem convention; Coleman won’t challenge Klobuchar; Dayton warns of dire budget cuts; health plan opposition; rising bankruptcies; and a “scorned celebrity.”
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(Insert spit-take sound effect.) $155 million to renovate … Target Center? That’s the story via USA Today and reporter Jon Krawczynski. His story says the plan “calls for a complete remodel of the 21-year-old building. It would shift the main entrance to the corner of 6th Street and First Avenue, add two large glass atriums and another restaurant that overlooks Target Plaza. It would also completely remodel the inside to make the building more attractive to traveling concerts and shows. There’s no specific plan to pay for it just yet. The website said the Timberwolves would help, but didn’t say how much. New Gov. Mark Dayton set aside $8 million for improvements to Target Center in his bonding proposal, but that would only pay a small amount of the overall costs.”

Bob Collins at MPR’s “News Cut” comments, “First, the Timberwolves aren’t threatening to move. Second, few people would care if they did. That perhaps is the reason why an afternoon news conference stressed the non-Timberwolves events. Only 25 percent of the events at Target Center are Timberwolves games, they said. The officials used the term ‘renovations’ during the news conference — conjuring up the notion of a little tweaking here and a little tweaking there. But the proposal is actually a gutting of the current 20-year-old facility.”

MinnPost’s Jay Weiner, meanwhile, puts the Target Center plans in the bigger picture of Minnesota’s overall sports facilities situation.

I admit I was betting on Cleveland. But official word today is that Charlotte, N.C., will host the Democrats in 2012. A story on KARE-TV’s site says: “Minneapolis was one of four cities vying to host the 2012 Democratic Convention the week of September 3rd. Cleveland and St. Louis were the other two who lost out. North Carolina officials estimate that the convention will bring between [30,000] and 35,000 delegates, political leaders and media members to the city. All those people will rent hotel rooms, dine out, and pump money into the local economy.” Don’t forget all the extra revenue to the cage and concertina wire manufacturers.

For everyone focused on Michele Bachmann’s presidential flirtations, the path to a more likely goal was cleared today when Norm Coleman announced he would not run against Amy Klobuchar in 2012. The Hill’s Briefing Room blog has an item by Daniel Strauss with Coleman saying: “ ‘I’m not going to run against Amy Klobuchar,’ the Minnesota Republican said in an interview with ABC News’s Topline. Just last week Coleman floated the possibility of returning to public office. ‘I love public service. I can’t tell you that I’ve run my last race. The public will decide that,’ Coleman told Newsmax magazine.”

Gov. Dayton told the Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness that even his budget will have “devastating effects” on the state’s poorest citizens. Madeleine Baran at MPR writes: “Hundreds of advocates for the homeless gathered at Westminster Presbyterian Church to get a glimpse at what they might expect from the Democratic governor’s budget. Dayton plans to release his proposal for the state’s 2012-13 budget on Feb. 15. The governor did not discuss the details of that proposal on Monday, but repeatedly said his budget cuts would be tough on poor and homeless Minnesotans. ‘I won’t pretend here that even my budget, which is a balance between revenues and spending cuts, is not going to have drastic effects, painful effects, harmful effects,’ Dayton said.”

Blowback has come down on that plan floated last week to rearrange Medicaid in Minnesota.   Christopher Snowbeck at the PiPress reports: “In a report released last week, a group of health plan and hospital executives who go by the name Minnesota’s Healthcare Imperative suggested a series of reforms to deal with the growing cost of the state’s Medicaid health insurance program, which is called Medical Assistance. Among other things, the executives argued that the state could save up to $300 million by moving people with disabilities into managed care programs. That way, the executives said, the patients’ care needs might be better coordinated and delivered more efficiently than under the current structure, which is known as ‘fee-for-service.’ But previous experiments with managed care have proven it can be a bad option for people with disabilities, argued Steve Larson, public policy director for the Arc of Minnesota, at a news conference Monday near the state Capitol. What’s more, Larson said, managed care might well generate business for the very people who developed the plan.” Uh, that would be a fair guess.

Fox21 in Duluth has an AP story reporting that the number of bankruptcies in Minnesota has increased for the fourth consecutive year: “Chronic unemployment and mortgage troubles pushed more than 22,000 into bankruptcy last year, a 4 percent increase from 2009 and 87 percent higher than 2007. Nationally, about 1.5 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2010. That’s 9 percent higher than the previous year.”

In a minor sign of the apocalypse, Bob the Trainer, from TV’s “The Biggest Loser,” is considered a celebrity … to the point where his having a snit over not being squeezed into popular restaurant Bar La Grassa is making news. The Strib’s Rick Nelson writes on the paper’s “Our Voices” blog: “It started when manager Michael Lecy fielded a late-afternoon call from the concierge service at American Express. Could a party of five take a 7:30 table that evening? Sorry, we wish we could accomodate you, but we can’t, was the response. “I couldn’t even get a table for five if I was calling on a Saturday for that night,” [chef/co-owner Isaac] Becker said with a laugh. AmEx followed with a second call (‘They said, ‘The customer is willing to release his name,’ said Becker) and a third, but there were no tables at 7:30. Honest. ‘The only way we could accommodate them is if we screwed someone else over, and we don’t do that,’ said Becker. Other available times were offered but not accepted. The customer? Bob Harper, aka Bob the Trainer on NBC’s ‘The Biggest Loser,’ in town for a Mall of America appearance. Enter Twitter. ‘OMG!! The manager at Bar Lagrasa in Minneapolis was SO RUDE to me. I wanted to have dinner there. Why are people so mean sometimes?’ flashed across Harper’s Twitter account. Next up: ‘And Minneapolis is one of my favorite places … why did the manager at Bar Lagrasa have to be like that?? I still love it here!!’ ” As Nelson points out, the chucklehead never stooped to personally speaking with Lecy.