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Vikings stadium bond sales delayed; 2016 opening imperiled

Duluth, Superior offer political contrasts; record year for 100-stock index; exurb housing on rise; water plans at issue; schools’ “suspension gap”; Sooch sounds off on Senate building; and more.

Minnesota Vikings

That lawsuit against the Vikings stadium is becoming more than a nuisance. The AP story says: “A 2016 grand opening for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium may be in jeopardy after state officials announced Sunday that a legal challenge is forcing the delay of a $468 million bond sale to help finance the project.Plans for a $400 million development near the stadium site in downtown Minneapolis also may be affected, depending on the length of the delay. … The Vikings also might have to play for a third season at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota because of construction delays, and the entire Wells Fargo/Ryan Cos. office tower-housing-retail development known as Downtown East could be jeopardized.” Can you imagine the squeeze being put on Doug Mann et al?

In the Strib, Jim Adams says:Stadium leaders hope the Minnesota Supreme Court will rule quickly on issues raised in a Friday afternoon filing with the court, but said even a two-week delay in the bond sale could add a year to the stadium’s ambitious construction schedule. … [the] deal needs to be done so Ryan Companies can sign a development agreement with Minneapolis the next day for the Wells Fargo office towers and park. That agreement, in turn, must be sealed before Ryan can acquire in late January five blocks of land from the Star Tribune Co. for the new park planned near the new stadium, she said.” The Strib op-ed page is going to be working overtime to smack this thing down.

The ideological divide in Minnesota and Wisconsin politics gets a close-up from The New York Times’ Monica Davey from the vantage of Duluth and Superior: “[T]hese days, when residents cross the bridge, they enter starkly different political territories. Since Republicans in Wisconsin took control of the State Legislature and governor’s office in 2011, and since Democrats gained full dominance in Minnesota last year, people here have watched essential elements of their daily lives — their savings plans, job expectations, personal relationships and health insurance — veer apart.”

Strib biz columnist Neal St. Anthony takes a look at the top 100 Minnesota stocks from 2013: “The Bloomberg-Star Tribune 100 index of Minnesota’s largest publicly owned companies rose 49.3 percent in value in 2013. That’s the best annual performance since the index’s creation in 1998. It beat the total return of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index of America’s largest public corporations, which was up 32.4 percent, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies, which rose 38.8 percent.”

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As long as you don’t have to pay for gas, it’s great … Susan Feyder of the Strib says: “Five years after the housing bust, home builders and buyers are returning to the Twin Cities exurbs. In Otsego, the number of housing permits issued last year rose almost 40 percent from 2012, to 188, according to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. In Farmington, housing permits almost doubled, to 135, while the number issued in Monticello soared from 19 to 51. Those totals remain a far cry from the early 2000s, when acres of open land gave way to hundreds of new homes. Few expect those go-go years to return anytime soon, but with home prices rising sharply in the Twin Cities and its immediate suburbs, buyers are once again venturing to the outer edges of the Twin Cities metro area.”

Speaking of sprawl … Dave Peters at MPR says: “The big idea hovering over Twin Cities water use these days is a plan that could encourage some suburbs to draw water from the Mississippi River (via St. Paul or Minneapolis systems) instead of their own well-based water systems. The reason is that increased groundwater pumping over the decades may not be sustainable as suburban growth continues. So, some suburban officials are wondering, why is Minneapolis hoping to drill new wells to tap the same groundwater aquifer they do?”

The St. Paul school district is ahead of the feds when it comes to discipline … Stribbers Anthony Lonetree and Steve Brandt write: “A federal push to ease up on school suspensions and expulsions hasn’t caught the St. Paul schools off guard. Over the past two years, suspensions have declined in the state’s second-largest school district precisely because of the sorts of actions now suggested by the federal government … Suspensions dropped by 28 percent overall in 2012-13, but black students still were nearly 10 times as likely to be suspended as Asian students, the ethnic group with the lowest percentage of students disciplined.”

Gizmo-watch … At MPR, Martin Moylan reports: “New mini pacemakers from Medtronic and St. Jude Medical are expected to be more reliable and make the implant surgery less invasive. … Snaked into the heart through a blood vessel in the leg, the devices from both companies require no chest incision for the implant. Instead of connecting to heart tissue with wires that can fail or wear out, the mini-pacemakers attach directly to the organ’s inner wall. The Medtronic device resembles a marriage between a battery and a grappling hook, but it’s only about as tall as a nickel.”

Ol’ Sooch is outraged … and it isn’t directly related to his property taxes. In the PiPress, Joe Soucheray writes: “Not only is a new state Senate office building unnecessary, but the effort to bring it about was, essentially, crooked. In the final minutes of the last legislative session, the lodge tucked into a massive tax bill language that authorized a new edifice for themselves. … If space is the issue, there is plenty of vacant office space in St. Paul cheaper than $63 million. We have no obligation to accommodate a political class that spends so recklessly and so whimsically, and perhaps even illegally.”

How did I miss this from last week? The Los Angeles Times story by Russ Parsons says: “Oh man, can Molly Schuyler eat! You wouldn’t know it by looking at her, she’s thin, but watch this video of her demolishing a 72-ounce steak in less than three minutes. Amazing. … Started in 1948, the challenge promises that if you can finish the steak and all of its fixings within an hour, you get the steak free. … Schuyler breezed through without a care, finishing the steak off in 2 minutes and 44 seconds, pausing only once to cut the steak from the bone with a knife. The mother of four comes from Montevideo, Minn., and holds several other eating records — a couple of big burgers, pizzas, barbecue, and calzones as well as something called the ‘Pig Wings.’ ” Montevideo is back in the national news … and this time with a bona fide champion!