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Land deal may offer clues to plans for Minneapolis soccer stadium

Plus: a new taconite plant to open on the Iron Range; Xcel plans a rate hike; Minneapolis Park Board wants public vote on funding; and more. 

Minnesota United

If he’s convinced, then it must be so. The owner of a potential site for the stadium says he’s convinced the group just awarded the Twin Cities MLS franchise plans on asking for a public subsidy to build the facility, reports the Strib’s Eric Roper: “The professional soccer league awarded McGuire’s group a franchise last week, contingent on the construction of a new soccer stadium. A development group representing McGuire has secured temporary exclusive rights to purchase land owned by Robert Salmen for the facility just west of Target Field in the Farmers Market area. Salmen, who has never met McGuire, says he has not been told explicitly how the roughly $150 million stadium would be funded. He says the option on the land expires sometime in late summer — despite the group’s recent request for an extension. ‘I’ve told them they don’t have to worry about extensions and stuff, because all they have to do is write a check,’ Salmen said. ‘And they say, “Well we have to go through the Legislature.”’” 

Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR reports on a new report showing that three watersheds in northeastern Minnesota have some of the cleanest water in the state. “The Lake Superior South, Big Fork and Nemadji River watersheds, which cover about 3,000 square miles, are made up mostly of forests and wetlands. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency tests all of the state’s 81 watersheds every 10 years as part of a project funded by the Legacy Amendment. It’s a very undisturbed area of the state,’ the MPCA’s Nathan Mielke said. ‘Land use is a major driver for water quality in these areas and that’s why you’re seeing such pristine water.’ The agency recently monitored four watersheds in southwestern Minnesota and found that no lakes and only a few streams were fit for swimming or fishing.”

Why opening a new taconite plant on the Iron Range isn’t necessarily good news: As Dan Kraker of MPR reports: “After nine years of financing and construction delays, Minnesota’s first modern taconite operation is nearly complete. But this summer’s ribbon-cutting won’t be all smiles and ice cream. While Iron Range leaders are happy about the jobs and investment, falling ore prices and lowered expectations are dampening enthusiasm for the $2 billion Essar Steel project. With recent layoffs at nearby taconite plants, some Rangers are anxious for the global steel industry to rebound and unsure about Essar’s commitment. Essar officials say they’re in for the long-haul on taconite but that constructing the steel plant would not have been feasible. The shift, however, remains a sore point for some lawmakers.”

In the Strib, Steve Brandt reports on how the Minneapolis Park Board is “laying the groundwork for a public vote on whether to increase taxes to renovate aging and worn neighborhood parks. Park officials say that the city’s 157 parks have racked up a $110 million backlog of maintenance and upkeep since 2000, a funding shortfall that continues to rise every day. Without a change, that gap will grow by another $46 million by 2020, park officials say. As a first step, park officials have authorized Superintendent Jayne Miller to conduct several dozen neighborhood meetings from May through September. The results of these meetings will help park officials determine whether to proceed with the referendum or scrap the plan all together. … A preliminary estimate shows it would cost the owner of a median-value home roughly $45 per year in added property taxes to close the maintenance gap and begin reducing the backlog.”

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Just in time for summer! Also in the Strib, David Schaffer reports: “Xcel Energy said Monday that it expects to raise its Minnesota electric rates by 6.1 percent, or $168 million, under a two-year rate hike approved last week by state regulators. Although the increase is far short of what the Minneapolis-based utility originally requested, the company reaffirmed its profit projections for the year. Xcel’s 1.2 million electric customers of Minnesota will need to wait a few weeks to know how much their bills are going up. That’s because regulators last week ordered another study of how the increase should be spread among residential and business customers based on the cost of serving them.”

Why do you get the feeling someone is going to blame the Met Council for this? Clare Kennedy of the Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal reports: “A restaurant familiar to generations of University of Minnesota students has closed. Campus Pizza & Pasta called it quits on Friday, said Jim Rosvold, a member of the family who has owned the Minneapolis restaurant since 1990. Rosvold was unsure what may happen to the restaurant space. He attributed the Washington Avenue restaurant’s demise to economic fallout from construction of the Green Line, which became operational in June 2014. Campus Pizza filed for bankruptcy around that same time.”

Parent of the year: WCCO-TV reports on an incident in Chanhassen: “On the morning of March 20, the boy and his father got on the bus. The father confronted the bus driver about the comment he made about his son, and the bus driver said he was simply trying to calm the girl. Authorities said the man, after having his son identify the girl, told his son he had his permission to assault any children who were ‘messing with him.’ He told his son that if the other students didn’t want to be friends, he should leave them alone. The man allegedly used several profanities during the discussion with his son, the bus driver and the other children.”

Then there’s this guy: Mario Eccher of the Pioneer Press reports on a St. Paul man who is accused of posting ‘revenge porn’ sex videos of his now-ex-wife after the two split up. The 25-year-old man was charged Friday with gross misdemeanor defamation of the 23-year-old woman. (To avoid identifying the alleged victim, the Pioneer Press is not naming the man.) Prosecutors allege he recorded the two having sex at least three times while they were married without her knowledge or consent. After they divorced, he posted the videos online, again without her consent, according to the charges.”