National Sports Center hosts free pickleball

Indoor pickleball has arrived at Blaine's National Sports Center, and to mark the sport's debut, players can participate for free through December.

Open gym sessions will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday through Friday in the Sports Expo Center on the west end of the complex, at 1700 105th Avenue NE.

Pickleball, a paddle sport combining elements of badminton, pingpong and tennis, is one of the fastest growing sports in America. When the National Sports Center redid its wood floors this fall, it added lines for pickleball on six courts, said Chief Marketing Officer Sara Soli.

"We are looking for ways to engage with the community," she said. "There also are not a lot of places to play indoors in the north metro."

Balls and paddles are available at the National Sports Center, so "you can walk in and give it a try," Soli said.

Fees for open play — for all ages and skill levels — will begin in January, but have not been set, Soli said.

Tim Harlow

St. Paul

Winter warming spaces open

Ramsey County has opened three winter warming spaces in St. Paul for homeless individuals and families.

The warming spaces will be open from 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. through February. Spaces at Union Gospel Mission, 435 University Av. E., and Phalen Activity Center, 1530 Phalen Dr., will host adults. Families and youth will be accommodated at the Newell Park Building, 900 Fairview Av. N.

A free shuttle service will run from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. nightly. Hats and gloves, snacks and hot beverages will be provided at each location.

Ramsey County housing services and support staff will respond to calls and emails from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. to help refer people to available warming spaces or extra shelter beds. The county is using state and federal aid, including American Rescue Plan dollars, to provide the service..

Those in need of a place to sleep at night — or who are looking to refer someone else to a warming space — can call 651-266-1050 or email

Shannon Prather


Lodging tax to raise funds for city's promotion

Is Woodbury a destination?

City officials are answering "yes" with the introduction of a new lodging tax, after the City Council voted unanimously to impose a 3% tax on gross receipts at the east metro suburb's nine hotels.

The tax goes into effect on April 1 next year. It won't start immediately because the state Department of Revenue, which will do the collections, needs time to set up the system, said Angela Gorall, the assistant city administrator who presented the tax proposal to the City Council at the Nov. 30 council meeting.

Per state statute, some 95% of the funds raised must be used for the promotion of Woodbury as a tourist or convention destination, Gorall said.

The city expects to generate about $500,000 in lodging taxes in 2023, jumping to $667,014 in 2024, the first year the tax will be in effect for a full calendar year.

Matt McKinney


City to get high-speed internet

More than 2,300 Wayzata homes and businesses are slated to get high-speed internet, with some expected to be online as soon as this month.

Comcast announced Dec. 8 that it plans to extend its network to the west metro city, a $2.5 million project the company said will likely be completed in 2023.

Emma Nelson