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First Ave’s New Trump-Loving GM Is Already Out of the Picture

Plus Roof Depot's new life, saluting a sports journo, and Nate P. prepares you for the fishing opener in today's Flyover news roundup.

Wikipedia Commons; Instagram|

First Avenue, left, and Mr. Sawyer, right.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

Well, That Was Fast...

Earlier this week, news started making its way around the internet that First Avenue had hired a new general manager, ​​Steven Sawyer. Sawyer is the former director of events and hospitality for Target Center. He’s also apparently a vocal MAGA Republican whose Twitter timeline, inactive as it has been over the last two years, is full of stuff he's retweeted from accounts with American flags in their handle and words like “patriot” in their bio.

“I don’t know who needs to hear this but if you stop breaking the law and resisting arrest, you won’t have problems with the police,” reads one Sawyer retweet. Here’s a real thinker for you, retweeted back in 2020: “What if, and hear me out on this one, it’s actually the progressives who are the racists, the homophobes and the bigots, and they just use those lables [sic] on the rest of us because all they really want to do is control us?” And there's this co-sign of two reliable shitheads, right-wing radio ranter Clay Travis and sultan of smug Bill Maher. Elsewhere, we see a photo of Sawyer cruising the St. Croix River with a Trump 2020 flag flying from behind the boat; "maga2020 #boatparade" punctuates that Insta post.

Hoo boy. 

Now, yes, First Ave is a private company and its leadership can hire whoever they want to steer the ship. But as Twitter user @Christin612—who unearthed a lot of Sawyer’s online activity—noted, Sawyer's MAGA chest-thumping does seem like it directly contradicts the venue’s welcoming code of conduct. Perhaps not the best culture fit! The hire didn’t sit well with venue patrons, and from what we hear, it didn’t land well with First Avenue’s staff, either; they’re the ones who would’ve had this guy managing them, after all. Which is likely why, shortly after Sawyer’s new job went public, he was let go, according to an internal First Ave email from May 10 viewed by Racket. Nate Kranz is resuming the role of interim GM for the time being.

EPNI Is Taking Apps for the Roof Depot Space

After years of debates, protests, and occupation, the Minneapolis City Council agreed to sell the Roof Depot site to the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) last September. (The city had wanted to demolish that warehouse on the property; residents protested that construction would release pollutants in an area that already has air-quality issues.) Now that an agreement has been reached, EPNI is moving on to phase two, inviting businesses, artists, and organizations to apply for a space inside the 230,000-square-foot-building. “EPNI is currently looking for proposals and partners to join us as we work to transform the former Roof Depot warehouse into an indoor urban farm and dynamic community hub,” organizers posted via Instagram, noting that spaces could be used as an office, a gallery, a printing press, or a cafe. “Provide as much detail as you can provide, but don't stress if you don't yet know the answers to all of the questions on there,” they write, sharing the application link. You've got 10 days, folks: The deadline for proposals is May 20.

A Deserved Shoutout to a Longtime Women's Sports Journalist

There’s a nice piece on Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder journalist Charles Hallman over at WCCO News today. Reporter A.J. Hilton focuses on Hallman’s attention to women sports—he began covering women’s basketball decades ago, while still in college. "There was nobody there covering them, you know. Wonder why?” Hallman recalls. “So I started watching and started looking at women's sports, not in male chauvinist ways, but watching them, and these women can play. And, you know, why aren't they getting recognized?” Hallman estimates that he’s been on staff at the Spokesman-Recorder since 1990 (disclosure: I, Keith, worked with him when I was an editor at the newspaper in the late ’90s), and he has consistently covered the Lynx since their inception. Read the full profile here.

Happy Fishing Opener! Listen to Nate P.

Minnesota fish populations are in “excellent” shape, the DNR reports, and license sales are strong; the governor is busy being told he “couldn’t back a boat in to save [his] life” by online detractors, and also declaring today Fishing and Water Education Day (happy Fishing and Water Education Day to you all). It’s fishing opener weekend, and local anglers are ready. Well, almost ready. First we gotta hear from friend of Racket Nate P., the YouTube fishing/cooking dude who recently popped into KARE 11 to share fishing tips ahead of the opener. The three-minute segment is… really light on practical pointers, though the SHORELUNCH host does show off a bag of garbage he’d collected before treating the anchors to his famous Walleye Nibblers. OK, you're now ready to go land a lunker!  

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