For Major League Baseball teams, there is a window of opportunity to win a championship. Unless, of course, you’re the Pirates. Then it’s more like a knothole. Or the Yankees, who had some remodeling work done in the ’90s to have that wall removed entirely. But for the rest of the teams, there is a window of opportunity that is largely determined by the health of their minor leagues.
The Twins window slammed shut in 2011 when their team was decimated by concussions, bi-lateral leg weakness and locusts. Any hope of it reopening last year was dashed when injuries to their starting rotation revealed just how barren the minor league system had become. And, unfortunately, it’s going to remain closed this year.
It was bound to happen. They extended that window a full decade, something usually only wealthy teams can accomplish. They also converted that window into a new outdoor home, one that is going to let the sun shine on otherwise dreary seasons.
However, last year’s problem, a starting pitching rotation that ranked as the second worst in the majors, only nominally improved. The optimist will point out that the three offseason acquisitions — Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey — should be quite a bit better than last year’s patchwork. The cynic might suggest that the Twins acquired two fifth starters and a guy rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Both are right.
The construction at Orchestra Hall crowds onto South 11th Street in downtown Minneapolis — transforming the once familiar concert venue, with its blue glass façade and big blue pipes, into a confusion of white tarps, particle-board and cranes.
While the Minnesota Orchestra is at an impasse with management and musicians over a new collective bargaining agreement, the Orchestra Hall renovation is moving ahead and on pace to be done this summer.
The $50 million renovation, which started last June, is set to update and improve the performance space’s auditorium and the hall’s lobby area.
Construction is scheduled to be complete in July, before finishing touches will be completed for the start of the next concert season. This year, concerts have been cancelled through April 7 because of the ongoing labor dispute.
“The project remains on schedule and remains on budget,” said Michael Henson, president and CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra Association.
Originally slated to be a $160 million reconstruction project, Henson said the project’s budget was scaled down incrementally by tens of millions of dollars, until it was $60 million near the end of 2007 when he took over as president and CEO.
The 2008 recession scaled it down further to the current $50 million price tag.
Renovation funds are a part of a $110 million campaign that began in 2005. This fund contributes to renovations as well as the organization’s legacy funds, while also serving to help pay musicians and fund touring and recording.
Henson said that while the auditorium at Orchestra Hall was built to last 200 years, the lobby was built to last 20 years and has been in use for 40. He said the renovation aims to benefit audiences, musicians and the hall.
City Council Member Diane Hofstede and Jacob Frey, her challenger for the Third Ward council seat, squared off in a candidate forum Thursday night at DeLaSalle High School.
More than 200 people attended the event co-sponsored by the Journal and the League of Women Voters. The candidates answered questions from members of the audience on several topics, including affordable housing, transportation, their leadership style, development trends and urban farming, among other things.
Hofstede and Frey are seeking the DFL endorsement. The party is holding an endorsing convention at DeLaSalle High School on May 4.
Here’s a recap of some of the major issues covered by the candidates:
On challenges facing the ward over the next decade
Hofstede said city leaders need to continue focusing on public safety, noting Minneapolis has been blessed with reduced crime rates in recent years. She also said the city needs to continue collaborating with government partners to focus on riverfront revitalization.
Frey, meanwhile, said increasing the city’s population is crucial to facing the challenges of the next 10 years. At one point the city’s population was near 600,000 and now it’s roughly 387,000. He noted the ward is home to many young urban professionals and retired empty nesters and needs to attract more families. He said he supports efforts to secure a new downtown school and more green space as a means to make the ward more family friendly.
Frey said he’s a supporter of the proposal to add streetcars Nicollet and Central avenues. He said they would make the city more “dynamic.” Hofstede said she’s also supportive of streetcars and other transit improvements, like bus rapid transit (BRT).
Hofstede said she has been a strong advocate for small businesses in the ward, pointing to the Third Ward Neighborhoodfest, an annual event she holds at the Nicollet Island Pavilion to showcase local businesses and community groups. She said she’s worked to help business owners navigate the city approval process and said many corridors in the ward are filled with vibrant businesses.
Frey said “small and local businesses are the heart of our city and the heart of our ward.” He said the city’s regulatory process needs to be streamlined to make it easier for small businesses to get up and running. He said the city also needs to reach out to non-English speaking business owners to make it easier for them to launch businesses.
When asked about what his public leadership style, Frey said being a public servant is about “being incessantly involved in the community.” He pointed to his work organizing the Big Gay Race — an event that raised more than $350,000 to fight the amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. He said if you’re not organizing, you’re not going to be an effective council member.
Hofstede said community organizing is part of her “DNA” and referenced her community outreach work through the Neighborhoodfest event and community meetings she holds throughout the ward. “This is not something new to me,” she said. “I have done this my whole life.”