I think everyone feels the same way this guy does because it is becoming increasingly clear that Hennepin County and the entity that owns some of the land slated for the new ballpark are coming to loggerheads over the acquisition of the last parcels of land for the new ballpark. The City Pages had a good article on this subject this week and my good buddy Shane at Greet Machine has been lamenting over the land acquisition for weeks now. To further muddy the waters, a couple of Hennepin County Commissioners said over the weekend that they are pursuing alternative ballpark locations within the County! Which if true would surely need state legislative approval and would definitely delay the ballpark opening at least one year if not two.
But is it true? Are the County/Twins really serious about a different ballpark location? Is the land acquisition process really in danger of slowing down or stopping the development of a Twins Ballpark at the Rapid Park site? I argue no it’s not.
First if you need some background on this subject, please go over to Greet Machine. Shane’s site is the only place where you are going to get all the inside information on the ballpark. Plus it’s well established that all the parties involved (County, Land Owners, Twins Officials, Sid Hartman, Politicians, etc.) read the site and from time-to-time and slip nuggets of information to Shane.
The fact is that the County/Twins are moving full steam ahead on the Rapid Park site. Just today there is an article in the Strib that indicates that the ballpark designers have come up with a solution to the bike trail that intersects the ballpark site. In addition, the Twins are still planning to reveal ballpark renderings on February 15th. But more importantly, the County IS quietly taking steps to acquire the Rapid Park site.
The fact is that the County will be able to gain control of the land through the Quick Take process. In fact I think LPII (Land Owners) has even agreed to this. That's the key. The County/Twins can go forward with design, move dirt around, put out bids for construction, etc. During all this somewhere in the bowels of the court system the eminent domain process is going through the meat grinder. Twelve months from now we will have a ballpark design, perhaps a ballpark name, City/County approvals are in place, permits issued, infrastructure being built, contracts being let, sales tax revenues being collected, and the eminent domain hearing will end. Either the County has enough $$$ or it doesn't. If it doesn't THEN there is consternation. Either we have to hit up the Twins for more land acquisition costs or go back to the legislature. It will be tough at the legislature but with the fact that the ballpark is a real deal now (designs, permits, contracts, etc) even the son of Phil Krinkie would be hard pressed to say no to authorizing the County to pay a little more than $90 M for land/infrastructure (I'm sure there would be no need for additional sales tax revenue).
Right now I think all we are seeing is some public posturing by the County and LPII so that they look like the heroes and the other guy looks like a goat when these bumps occur. It's something that happens every day in complicated real estate deals however with a high profile project like the Twins ballpark, it's just getting a little more sunshine. That’s all. Until I hear otherwise, I look forward to seeing the new renderings next week.