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The Driftless National Park Dream Is Already Dead

Plus Duluth real estate is out of control, U.S. Bank Stadium warns away ticketless Swifties, and Ren Fest deals with its traffic sitch in today's Flyover news roundup.

The Driftless National Park & Preserve Initiative|

It’s a metaphor, fool!

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Driftless Dream Donezo

Last month we brought you news of the Driftless National Park & Preserve Initiative, a group that hoped to acquire as many as 235,041 acres of land in the bluffy, beautiful Driftless region in southeast Minnesota and preserve 'em for future generations. Total cost: Around $700 million, though that could all be recouped via "billions" in tourism revenue, according to the initiative's extremely detailed proposal. The pipe dream has already expired. Lead organizer Sean Macaday diplomatically put the kibosh on his plan Wednesday, following weeks of "outrage and fear" from locals who viewed the new park as a threat to their homes and farms, TV station KTTC reports.

State Rep. Steven Jacob (R-Altura) and ("uniquely evil") state Sen. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) reportedly pushed back hard against the idea of a new federally protected acreage near their districts. Terms like "land grab" and "eminent domain" popped up as "hundreds" of area residents voiced their disapproval over the proposed park," writes KTTC. (Anyone who has watched Ken Burns's National Parks doc is well aware land-hoarding gentry and self-interested industry are historically the greatest enemies to conservationism.)

"The proposal I scrapped was 100% no eminent domain. I had some great and enjoyable conversations with Rep. Jacob, although I still don’t feel I was given a chance to explain the project; the meeting I attended last Thursday was advertised for those against the park idea, and it was feral," Macaday tells Racket, adding that he doesn't believe the meeting was conducted in good faith. "I stood there, apologized, and answered questions. There was no presentation." Macaday, a meteorologist with Rochester TV station KIMT, pledges to keep fighting for new ways to protect and provide access to the Driftless region. For lots more debate on this very subject, hop on over to Reddit.

What Does $200K Get You in Duluth?

According to Redfin's real estate market competitiveness score, Duluth is a scorching 96 out of 100—i.e., almost maximum competition. (Minneapolis, meanwhile, hits 79 out of 100.) This comes as no surprise to home-curious Minnesotans who've seen headlines—both local and national—about the Zenith City's housing crisis. But we've yet to encounter an apt visual metaphor for the sheer madness of home buying in Duluth circa 2023. Until Wednesday, that is. The property at 804 N. 6th Ave. E., all newly constructed 205 square feet of it, hit the market this week for an eye-popping $195,000.

You might be thinking: "Now, now, I'm sure it's sitting on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by lush acreage, my dear boy—that's where the value is." Nope! It's on a cement slab, smushed between two other older, much larger homes. "This brand-new, custom-built tiny home offers an exceptional living experience," raves the listing for the one-bedroom, one-bathroom structure. "Boasting convenience, sustainability, and modern appeal, this property is an ideal choice for both investors and eco-conscious adventurers." Overall, the median home sale price in Duluth is up almost 30% over last year, according to Redfin. Believe your eyes: It might not be a great time to buy!

Downtown Minneapolis Is For Paying Customers Only

For weeks now, the city of Minneapolis has been desperately courting visitors to come downtown, promising irresistible rewards like a game of beanbag with our fatuous mayor, parking vouchers, and even a free Third Eye Blind concert. So it was a little strange seeing a message from U.S. Bank Stadium that “strongly discouraged” Taylor Swift “fans without tickets” from congregating outside the People’s Stadium this weekend. 

Decision makers at the stadium were no doubt spooked by the news of thousands of ticketless Swifties congregating in other cities to hear whatever notes spilled out from the concert grounds. And no doubt they meant to warn fans enchanted by these same images that the avicidal glass walls of our expensive football mausoleum will not let any sound escape. (Then again, given the stadium’s abysmal acoustics, even some fans who bought tickets will be disappointed that they can’t hear anything.) Oh, and also the city is already gonna be flooded with Pride celebrants as well.

On the other hand, it is so Minneapolis—a city that has serious if not terminal misgivings about being a city—to warn off unticketed visitors who just want to come have fun in our city. Anyway, other cities have tried this and it’s not gonna work. And it’s good to have people enjoying themselves in your downtown, even if you can't micromanage their experience here.

Huzzah! Ren Fest Fixes Its Parking Problem

Epic Renaissance Festival traffic has always been part of ye olde experience, with cars often backed up for miles on the two-lane road to the fair site in Shakopee. But last year things were so bad that many business owners in Scott County say they had to close up shop because getting around the area was impossible during event hours. So officials gave Mid-America Festivals, the group that runs the event, an ultimatum to fix the situation or risk losing their permit. This week, the fair announced a solution: no more free parking and limited parking availability. This year, 7,000 vehicles maximum will be able to park on the grounds each day, and to do so people will have to prepay $10 online for a spot on a specific date. Meanwhile, park-and-ride options throughout the metro will be available at $5 for a round trip. (It’s expected that 3,000 people will use this daily.) Folks who opt for the bus will also get a $5 voucher that can go toward admission or fest merch. And if you show up without a parking pass or a pass for the wrong day? You’ll either be paying $30 to park--if a spot is still available--or you’ll be turned away. That's on top of admission tickets; those will set you back $22 online now but jump up to $26.95 after June 30. Traveling back in time ain’t cheap, y’all.

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