Minnesota added 2,600 jobs in March, led by construction

The biggest monthly bump in construction hiring in two years drove Minnesota employment up by 2,600 jobs in March, a healthy bounce after a slow start to the year.

Construction employment rose by 2,700 in March despite the snow and cold, an encouraging sign for an industry that has been slow to replace the 46,000 jobs it lost between 2006 and 2010.

“Considering that March was still the depths of winter here, it does show signs that construction is likely to exhibit some real growth as spring finally arrives,” said Steve Hine, a labor market economist for the state.

Concrete in the ground at the new Lowertown Ballpark

Construction crews started pouring concrete into the ground in Lowertown St. Paul this afternoon — sometimes right on top of the footings for the old Diamond Products building that once stood at the site of the new Saints stadium.

“We’ve got existing pile caps, and the existing Broadway wall, which we’ll tie the precast into. And all our new structural footings will be incorporated into the existing pile caps. We’re using what’s already existing,” said Bob Curley, project superintendent.

St. Paul Saints’ Lowertown Ballpark beginning to take shape

Neither questions about funding and environmental cleanup nor back-and-forth with the State Historic Preservation Office over design flourishes can keep a big pink pig like Mudonna down.

The “divine swine” and “diva of the diamond,” who has her own Facebook page, braved light snow and massive dirt mounds to make an appearance Wednesday as the footings and foundations were laid for the new regional ballpark in St. Paul’s Lowertown, her future home.

Lowertown Ballpark: Lit pillars chosen as new stadium artwork

The upper Mississippi River will meander through the city of St. Paul’s regional ballpark in Lowertown, at least in spirit.

The St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department and the Lowertown ballpark project team have selected “Meander” — a lengthy public art sculpture composed of 28 lighted pillars — to decorate the ballpark’s west plaza.

Lowertown on the rise

I’ve lived in lowertown since well before it was named the “Top Hipster Zip Code” by a real-estate research firm, pointing out what locals already knew: The neighborhood is on the rise. A crop of new restaurants is building on the city’s foodie cred, established more than 100 years ago by its destination-worthy farmers’ market. The light rail is set to begin service this summer, and a new Saints ballpark is in the works. But Lowertown’s hip is an accessible sort; you don’t need a fixed-gear bike to enjoy its charms. To prove as much, I spent a day touring my backyard with my dad—a man decidedly against cycling (“too dangerous”) who hasn’t worn denim, skinny or otherwise, in more than 40 years.

For fans with special needs, new stadiums will be game changers

The Metrodome is nearly rubble, and Claudia Fuglie’s fine with that.

Cramped and hard to navigate, the old Vikings stadium made it difficult for her and others who use wheelchairs to get around. Built before the federal Americans with Disabilities Act required public buildings to accommodate disabled people, the dome offered only about 190 spots for special needs fans.