Ben Utecht, a former tight end for the University of Minnesota who went on to play for the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals, carries a Super Bowl ring from the Colts’ win over the Chicago Bears in 2007.
His next adventure? It’s called Conquer Ninja Gym, a new “American Ninja Warrior”-style practice facility that just signed an 11-year lease in the heart of downtown St. Paul.
By March, he hopes to open inside a 20,000-square-foot skyway-level space shared with D-1 Training, an all-ages gym that specializes in getting high school students ready for Division 1 college sports.
“It’s going to be an interesting 2021,” said Utecht, who plans to open his doors to future ninja warriors ages 5 and up. “It’s really a great business because it focuses on the youth of the community. How do we be a beacon of hope, and show the country, now more than ever, how we can do this together?”
Treasure Island Center, the home of the Minnesota Wild’s rooftop practice hockey rink and assorted government, nonprofit and retail tenants, will soon welcome a bevvy of newcomers — including two gyms, a sports chiropractor and the offices of the St. Paul Port Authority itself.
“That gets us to the point where we’re almost full,” said Andrea Novak, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority. “There’s very little space available at this point.”
After Macy’s department store closed in 2013, the Port Authority reopened the block-length structure in downtown St. Paul in Jan. 2018 as an office-and-retail complex. It has since drawn a mix of ice skaters, craft beer lovers and even a party room overlooking Wabasha Street, but relatively high rents have made filling the massive building tough.
The next crop of tenants may represent the most unique pairings yet, and they complete occupancy in the five-level building’s major spaces, though a series of smaller and oddly-shaped openings could yet be leased.
The building, which spans 540,000 square feet, is now 95 percent full, with 5,675 square feet available.
PORT AUTHORITY OFFICES
The Port Authority — the city’s primary economic development partner — moved into its current home at Infor Commons (formerly Lawson Commons) on St. Peter Street in 2013. After eight years, it plans to relocate by March or April, opening expansion space in Infor for its neighbor, an energy regulator.
“MRO (Midwest Reliability Organization), whom we share the floor with, wanted to expand into the entire floor,” Novak said. “It was an opportunity for us to give them that opportunity to stay in downtown, and for us to move into a building where we have an ownership stake.”
The new offices beneath the grand staircase in Treasure Island Center
The state’s new cases, hospitalizations and testing positivity rate are rising.
Rhode Island’s largest health care system, Lifespan, has suspended visitation in its hospitals as the state’s COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and positivity testing rate continue to rise.
“Care teams will encourage the use of devices such as smartphones to communicate with patients remotely, and, when available, the use of iPads for virtual visits,” Lifespan said on its website. If patients don’t have a device to use for virtual visits, according to its website, Lifespan will provide one.
Exceptions to the rule, which went into effect Monday, include Hasbro Children’s Hospital, which allows one parent to visit at a time and Newport Hospital’s maternity ward, which allows one birthing partner per patient. One adult may accompany a patient arriving in the emergency department, and that visitor’s stay will be limited.
As of Tuesday, Rhode Island had reported 34,543 cumulative COVID-19 cases and 1,212 related deaths, according to the state health department. Rhode Island’s testing positivity rate was 3.3% this week, which is lower than the 5% threshold the World Health Organization recommends governments get their positivity testing below.
Still, that rate has been slowly rising since September, and combined with increasing cases and hospitalizations, it suggests Rhode Island’s outbreak is moving in the wrong direction.
On a national level, hospitals are filling — 21% of hospitals across the country had more than 80% of their ICU beds filled the week of Oct. 24 through Oct. 30, compared to 17% to 18% during the summertime peak, according to an internal Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News.
ABC News’ Josh Margolin contributed to this report.
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Within two weeks, 30 guests had tested positive for covid-19. Suffolk County health officials said an additional 159 people who had potentially been exposed to the virus by wedding attendees had been forced to self-quarantine to prevent further spread of the virus.
“One-third of all of those in attendance,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a news conference Wednesday. “Think about that for a second.”
County officials recommended a fine of $17,000 against the club for violating a county sanitary code as well as a statewide mandate restricting gatherings to no more than 50 people, and the State Liquor Authority told the New York Times it was investigating the incident. The country club did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Long Island birthday party that same day limited its guest list to 50 names, but has still led to another 26 coronavirus cases in the last two weeks, Bellone said.
Those ill-fated gatherings were not the only large events to spread the coronavirus across Long Island in recent weeks. Dozens of new cases have been tied to a string of parties in Suffolk County, and hundreds of residents have been forced to quarantine after possible exposure to the virus.
“This type of blatant disregard for the well-being of others is not only extremely disappointing; it will not be tolerated,” Bellone said Wednesday. “If you violate the rules, you’ll be caught and held responsible.”
SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE BELLONE TO ANNOUNCE NEW ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS IN RESPONSE TO RECENT COVID-19 SPREADER EVENTS
The spread of the virus along Long Island is particularly concerning in the state and county that were once epicenters of the pandemic. More than 500,000 people in New York have tested positive for the virus, and at least 33,219 have died since the start of the pandemic. Even as coronavirus rates have remained low in New York in recent weeks, some social gatherings have led to hot spots.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on Wednesday urged residents to avoid even family gatherings as the holidays approach.
“My personal advice is the best way to say, ‘I love you,’ this Thanksgiving, the best way to say, ‘I’m thankful for you,’ is to say, ‘I love you so much, I’m so thankful for you, that I don’t want to endanger you, and I don’t want to endanger our family and I don’t want to endanger our friends. So we’ll celebrate virtually.’” Cuomo said. “But that is my personal opinion.”
Despite admonitions to keep social gathering small and socially distanced, or to avoid them altogether, many people have decided to come together in large groups, especially in Long Island.
A Sweet 16 party hosted at a banquet hall on Sept. 25 became the county’s first “superspreader” event, Bellone said, after 37 guests tested positive for the virus after attending the 81-person soiree. At least 270 people had to quarantine after possibly being exposed to coronavirus