Axios Twin Cities

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Hiya, everyone. It's Tuesday and our streak of warm, gorgeous weather is over for now.

  • High near 60 today, with rain through much of the day tomorrow.

🚨 Situational awareness: Spring street sweeping starts today in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Keep an eye out for signs so you don't get a ticket or a tow!

Today's newsletter is 933 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: St. Thomas' nervous neighbors

Neighbors who oppose the University of St. Thomas' plans for a new 5,500-seat arena display signs facing campus. Photo: Kyle Stokes/Axios

Construction equipment is already lining up on the University of St. Thomas campus to build a new 5,500-seat sports arena, but a group of neighbors wants to force the school β€” and the city of St. Paul β€” to delay the project.

Why it matters: St. Thomas needs larger facilities if it's going to truly capitalize on its recent leap to Division I college athletics.

Yes, but: This case shows how that construction could cause tension in the quiet residential neighborhood that surrounds the campus.

Driving the news: A neighbor-led group, Advocates for Responsible Development (ARD), has petitioned the Minnesota Court of Appeals, hoping to force the city to redo its assessment of the arena's environmental risks.

  • The court heard oral arguments last week.

By the numbers: A city-commissioned analysis says a "typical" event at the new arena would draw 773 cars to campus β€” though on a handful of nights each year, the biggest events would bring nearly twice those numbers.

Computer rendering of a basketball arena with cheering fans, a hardwood floor and luxury suites hanging over arena bowl seating
Renderings of the proposed Lee and Penny Anderson Arena. Image courtesy of the University of St. Thomas

What they're saying: ARD spokesperson Donn Waage told Axios the city miscalculated and underestimated the strain that arena events would put on parking on and around campus.

  • Neighbors are also worried about congestion on game nights β€” which could lead to more greenhouse gas emissions as visitors idle in traffic or circle neighborhood streets looking for parking.

Zoom in: The city's analysis found St. Thomas would be short between 330 and 742 on-campus parking spots for the best-attended games β€” though the crunch wouldn't be this bad for every event.

The other side: In its court filings, St. Thomas argued that many of ARD's contentions β€” including the claim that the city got its parking numbers wrong β€” are "demonstrably false."

  • St. Thomas has also shared plans to address parking concerns, which include setting aside certain spaces for fans, using shuttles from off-site lots, and encouraging more ridesharing, transit use, biking, and walking.

Between the lines: St. Thomas' move to D-I athletics is tied to the school's desire to "become a national Catholic educational brand," local sports journalist Pat Borzi reported β€” which boosters hope will be good for enrollment.

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2. πŸš— We tried an Uber/Lyft challenger

Empower, an Uber/Lyft alternative that has been providing rides in the Washington, D.C., area. Screenshots: Kyle Stokes/Axios.

While traveling last week in Washington, D.C., I tried using Empower, one of the new rideshare apps that says it's coming to the Twin Cities soon.

Driving the news: I wanted a glimpse of the Twin Cities' possible future without Uber and Lyft β€” which have threatened to leave town over Minneapolis' ordinance raising driver pay.

State of play: More than 200,000 passengers in D.C. have hailed rides through Empower since its launch three years ago.

Friction point: Empower is operating in D.C. without city authorization and doesn't plan to apply for a transportation license in Minneapolis. Company leaders argue they only operate a software platform for drivers.

  • Last week, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said it "doesn't make sense" to welcome Empower here if they plan to flout local regulations.

My thought bubble: Though Empower drivers set their own rate, the rider experience wasn't all that different from calling an Uber or a Lyft.

  • I waited less than five minutes for my driver to pick me up just before rush hour on Friday evening. They charged a base fare of $6, plus 84 cents per mile and 29 cents per minute.
  • After a $5 signup credit, I paid about $20 for a 7.5-mile, 37-minute ride, including a 25% tip. Empower says drivers receive the full fare.

What's next: Minneapolis' rideshare ordinance will take effect July 1.

A difference I noticed

3. The Spoon: Lynx draft 'polished scorer'

The newest member of the Minnesota Lynx, Alissa Pili, with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 draft. Photo: John Nacion/Sportico via Getty Images

⛹️‍♀️ The Minnesota Lynx selected the University of Utah's Alissa Pili in the first round of the WNBA Draft β€” "by some accounts … the second-most polished scorer in this year's draft class." (Star Tribune)

πŸŽ“ Minnesota's high school graduation rate may not have gone down after all as state officials announced last month, according to a new analysis by journalists at MPR sister organization APM Research Lab. (MPR News)

The DFL Party faced backlash yesterday over a local unit's endorsement of a central Minnesota House candidate with a criminal record who has allegedly stalked and harassed the GOP incumbent. (Star Tribune)

  • DFL chair Ken Martin disavowed the candidate and urged the chapter to rescind its decision. The candidate, Judd Hoff, did not respond to Axios' email seeking comment.

4. 🏌️Minnesota's hardest golf courses

Illustration: AΓ―da Amer/Axios

Wayzata's Spring Hill Golf Club is home to the toughest course in Minnesota, according to a new ranking from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

State of play: The Business Journal used a metric called slope rating to rank the state's courses.

By the numbers: Spring Hill, an 18-hole private club, scored 149 on that scale. A course with a standard difficulty rating would register a 113.

  • Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska and TPC Twin Cities in Blaine rounded out the top three.

Between the holes: Spring Hill, designed by the legendary golf course architect Tom Fazio, is also known for its natural beauty, Golf Digest writes.

5. 🐢 Bi-pup-isanship

Left: Rep. Emma Greenman (DFL-Minneapolis) snaps a pic of Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) holding Ariel, the cutest pupper. Right: Another adoptable doggo, Coco. Photos: Torey Van Oot/Axios

It turns out cute puppies can bridge the political divide.

Driving the smiles: The Animal Humane Society brought a bunch of pint-sized β€” and adoptable! β€” canines to the State Capitol yesterday.

  • DFL and GOP lawmakers passed puppies back and forth for snuggles and snapped pics for one another.

What they're saying: "This is like us on the floor," DFL Rep. Emma Greenman (Minneapolis) quipped as two rambunctious pups wrestled playfully.

Yes, but: Unlike the furry visitors, no lawmakers have peed on the (chamber) floor, she joked.

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ³ Kyle wants to hear about the food, drink, restaurant, or bar that you think any newcomer to the Twin Cities has to try at least once. Reply to this email!

🍻 Torey doesn't play golf but did spend a summer in high school driving the beer cart at the Brattleboro (Vt.) Country Club.

πŸ‚ Nick has to plant new grass this spring because a lot of his sod died in last year's drought.

This newsletter was edited by Ross Terrell and copy edited by Patricia Guadalupe.