The two major cities of Minnesota have DFL mayors. St. Paul's Chris Coleman is a pragmatist in behalf of his city. Minneapolis' Betsy Hodges is a fantasist in behalf of hers.
Coleman understands that gatherings of happy people in his city, rather than the suburbs, provide a heartbeat and insurance of a lively future. Hodges dreams that economic equity can be achieved if no corner is cut in dealing with the rich.
On Thursday, Coleman was standing in front of what was an enormous, windowless, abandoned warehouse, and was watching more than 8,000 people crowd into a wonderful, minor league-sized ballpark for its official debut:
The St. Paul Saints vs. the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks.
There is more public money in this ballpark for an independent league baseball team, $53 million out of $64 million-$65 million, than seems feasible, but CHS Field is terrific, and people will flock to it for ballgames and concerts and other events, and now Lowertown is complete with unlimited potential.
"We have Xcel Energy Center on one end and now this on the other end, and I'm more positive about what's happening with our downtown than I've ever been,'' Coleman said.
Hodges has the northern version of a super dome rising hugely on the eastern edge of her downtown, and there is Target Field and Target Center and construction ongoing in what's being termed the North Loop.
Bike Lane Betsy could get rid of the remaining blight between Target Field and the freeway by throwing her support to a soccer stadium. CHS Field shows that smaller can bring much to a downtown, and an 18,500-seat soccer stadium would complete the urban renewal of an entire area of her downtown.
The wealthy soccer partners, led by Bill McGuire, have agreed to make it almost pain-free financially. Freeze the property taxes at the current $345,000, and that's about it as far as the city would be concerned.
Bike Lane Betsy's opposition to this is based so much on making a show and so little on logic that it's an embarrassment, except to a constituency of other economic fantasists.