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BEST SIGN OF THE LONG-RUMORED RENAISSANCE OF DOWNTOWN ST. PAUL Minneapolis 2000 -

Now that we're done wailing and gnashing our teeth over Norm Coleman's use of tax dollars to spiff up RiverCentre, we'd just like to say how secretly pleased we are that hockey will be back in St. Paul come October. It's been a long seven years since those turncoat Stars moved to the other end of I-35, and even longer since the St. Paul Fighting Saints disappeared. And we've sat through every winter since then feeling more than a little ashamed that Dallas, Anaheim, Phoenix, and other sunbelt burgs were becoming NHL hot spots even though the only sport indigenous to those locales is tanning. While the gleaming arena façade rising over Kellogg Boulevard makes us a tetch nervous that Wild management somehow intends to upscale this most blue-collar of sports, we're heartened by the thought of hockey bars once more drawing unruly, pasty-skinned hordes to West Seventh Street.

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