Tuesday night, we headed over to the Black Sheep Pizza in the North Loop to meet with Jim Bickal and his friend, and colleague, Howard Sinker. Bickal, an alumnus of Grinnell College who works for Minnesota Public Radio, had a lot to say about his career’s evolution. He found that sports reporting, especially during the 1987 World Series the underdog Twins won, showed him how news can capture a community’s attention.
It was interesting to hear his views on topics we had discussed in depth, like stadium financing. Bickal discussed the impact his work on Morning Edition might have on the people making these decisions, especially since the demographics of those listening to public radio don’t always intersect with sports fans. He brought up the idea of a cycle of outrage over long projects like US Bank Stadium and Target Field, and what the media does to cover it. Hearing from a seasoned reporter and producer in an informal setting was another fascinating perspective on the wide impact of athletics.
On October 23, I went on a public tour of Minneapolis’s US Bank Stadium with my classmates. The building opened in 2016 and replaced the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome as the home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. It also hosts concerts, weddings, proms, soccer matches, and baseball games. The US Bank Stadium had a construction budget of approximately $1.1 billion. In 2010, the Metrodome’s roof collapsed from snow pileup. To combat this, the US Bank Stadium’s roof is tilted at an angle of 23 degrees and the snow melts, slides off the roof, and turns into runoff that enters the parking lot and the water gets dispersed without disturbing the environment. The stadium is also home to the NFL’s 11th largest video screen at 51 feet high and 88 feet wide, measuring at 4,400 square feet and projects at 4K resolution. I loved learning a lot about the logistics of the building and even getting the opportunity to take a picture on the field of the stadium!
During our trip we had the pleasure of meeting with Dave St. Peter who is the Minnesota Twins, a Major League Baseball team, CEO. A large task of his has been focusing on creating the best possible experience for fans at Target Field, their stadium. This includes factors like services, facility development, history, and sustainability. In order to provide these things, money is needed, so revenue streams have to be monitored carefully. A couple of their revenue streams are tickets, food and beverage, merchandise, and sponsorships. To successfully bring in revenue, they must understand how to appeal to different segments of customers. An example is providing outreach into communities which may not be drawn towards attending games but find ways to engage them. Apart from those tasks, another goal of his as CEO is increase diversity within fan bases and also employees.
On October 23rd, we visited Cretin-Derham Hall High School and had a chance to talk with its President, Frank Miley, and other school faculties. We discussed the financial incomes and outcomes, the donation resources and athletes’ performance in school and out school. The thing that attracted me is that Mr. Miley said “We make people think alumnus donation as a part of the tradition. Once they leave school, we show our need and ask for help multiple times … and tell them their gifts, no matter the amounts, make our school different.” Previously, I thought if people want to donate their school, they would donate no matter the school asks for help or not; if they do not want to donate, what the school says cannot influence them at all. However, Mr. Miley showed the fact which is different than we I thought before. If the school continually encourage and convince alumnus to give gifts, most of them will do so.
The other interesting fact is that the alumnus who are professional athletes often want their gifts to be used as financial support for students, not for other projects, such as high school construction or operation. Mr. Miley said it may be caused by that those previous students were benefited by the financial support that was provided by donors a lot when they were at school. Thus, they want to pass this tradition and help students.
The sun was still high in the sky as the group entered the TCF Bank Stadium alongside 50,000 other soccer fans on the evening of Sunday, October 21. The Minnesota United were competing against the LA Galaxy in their last home game of the season, and a record breaking number of fans came out to support them. The fans at this game were like no other; people from a wide range of backgrounds came together to support their team, and the energy in the stadium was wild. Additionally, there were many parents with their children, as the game made for an exciting family event for all ages. The stadium was not only made welcoming to all people but was also organized in a way that was accessible – there were many seating options for people with differing mobile abilities, as well as captioning on the screen for all announcers and stadium-wide cheers. Although the game ended with a 3-1 loss for the Minnesota United, our group enjoyed the game and left with smiles on our faces. Attending the game as a fan was a fun introduction to analyzing athletics “off the field.”
The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is one of the most top-ranked schools with public policy and planning program. It is a part of the University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota’s graduate program for public policy was started in 1938, and it turned to autonomy as a graduate school and thus became the School of Public Affairs. The school offers six master’s degrees, a doctoral degree, and six certificate programs. In 1977, this school was replaced with the founding of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, named to honor former Vice President Hubert Humphrey for his contributions to improving the well-being of humanity. Therefore, the school was renamed t the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 2011 to reflect its missions in humanity. Hubert Humphrey served as the 38th Vice Presidents of the United States from 1965 to 1969, and he was Minnesota representative in the United States Senate from 1949 to 1964 and 1971 to 1978. During his tenure, he successfully advocated for the inclusion of a proposal to end racial segregation in the 1948 Democratic National Convention’s party platform, was the lead author of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, introduced the first initiative to create the Peace Corps, sponsored the clause of the McCarran Act that threatened concentration camps for “subversives”, proposed making Communist Party membership a felony, and chaired the Select Committee on Disarmament.
Joseph Patrick Mauer is a professional Major League Baseball player for the Minnesota Twins. He has played as a catcher, designated hitter, and first baseman. Mauer won three batting titles, only catcher in MLB history to do so, three consecutive golden gloves, and American League Most Value Player in 2009.
He was born in St. Paul and attended Cretin-Derham high school where he played football, baseball, and basketball. In his senior year, he became the only athlete ever to be selected as the USA Today High School Player of the Year in two sports. He was drafted first overall by the Twins in 2001 right out of high-school.
Mauer is a rare commodity in the MLB––a good defensive catcher who could also hit. However, things started going downhill for him in 2011 when his season was cut in half after suffering multiple head injuries and concussions. His catching duties slowly decreased in 2012 and 2013 until he was made a full-time first baseman in 2014. This was done to protect the player from further concussions and day-to-day physical wear of being a major league catcher.
Mauer took the field for possibly the last time in late-September 2018 amidst speculation that he will retire at the end of the year. In possibly his final at-bat, he hit an opposite-field double in the 7th inning. He also played catcher for one pitch in the final inning and left the field to a rousing standing ovation from the crowd and both dugouts.
Jim Bickal, a Grinnell College alumnus, is the senior producer for Morning Edition on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) News. MPR, an important news source for many individuals in and outside of the state, works to “enrich the mind and nourish the spirit” of all audiences. Morning Edition, based in St. Paul with hosts from Washington and Los Angeles, brings listeners the news they need to start their day informed of national and international news. The show runs from 4 to 9 a.m. every weekday.
As the senior producer for Morning Edition, Bickal oversees the making of the radio show. He also has published articles through MPR that cover topics ranging from sports to politics. Radio producers often take part in all stages of radio production, needing both creative and technical skills to be successful in the multifaceted role.
In April of this year, Bickal participated in the well-known Minnesota Twins mascot race that takes place between the fourth and fifth innings of every home game. He dressed as Louie the Loon and ran alongside a friend, William Wilcoxen, dressed as Wanda the Walleye. Unfortunately, Biackal pulled his hamstring during the performance and was unable to finish the race.
Paul Molitor is a former player and manager of the Minnesota Twins. During his Illustrious playing career, he played for the Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays before finally returning to play for his home state team Minnesota Twins. He hung up his boots at the Twins. After Molitor’s retirement, the Milwaukee Brewers retired his number 4 jersey.. As player he was a World Series Champion in 1993 and a 7 time All Star. Molitor was also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004. Paul Molitor is one of five players in Major League Baseball history with at least 3,000 hits, a .300 batting average and 500 stolen bases. In the 2683 games that Molitor played, he scored 1782 runs and had 234 home runs. In 2015 he came back to manage the Minnesota Twins. In his three years as manager, he had a Managerial record of 305-343 and won the Manager of the Year award in 2017.
The opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics took place at the Fisht Stadium—a complex that was specifically built for the games—in Sochi, Russia, on 7 February 2014. This breath-taking ceremony was one of the reasons the 2014 Olympics in Russia was the most expensive Olympic games ever, costing more than $51 billion. An estimated forty thousand people in the stadium, along with three billion people worldwide, watched the ceremony’s celebration of Russia’s history and culture. The ceremony opened with a video montage, in which the letters of the Cyrillic alphabet were associated with Russian historical events. This was followed by the Parade of Athletes, headed by the Greek athletes and culminating with the host nation. The crowds were then wowed by a 65-metre long troika and a giant inflatable structure in the form Moscow’s iconic St Basil’s Cathedral. Later, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, declared the games open. Legendary Russian hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak and Russian figure skater Irina Rodnina then lit the Olympic flame. After a dramatic firework finale, the stage was set for 16 days of equally dramatic competition. Thus, the Olympic games began!