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January 10, 2007

The other side of the story?

I think it is important to point out a piece of information that some people seem to be misunderstanding concerning the continuing efforts of Hennepin County to purchase the ballpark land. Hennepin County actually started eminent domain proceedings in November of last year but they seem to have backed off now. In fact, according to the Strib letter from Lambrecht and Pogin:

While we did not choose to be in eminent domain litigation, we accept the county's choice. In such litigation, a court of law will determine what the fair market value of the property is, and we are willing to accept the court's determination.

Is that "greedy" or "stubborn"? This raises a critical question. Are those who smeared us unwilling to pay fair market value for our property?

So, it is obvious that the land owners would welcome an eminent domain proceeding. My question, though, is would an eminent domain proceeding value the land based on the fact that a stadium will be built there, or would the land be valued as if the stadium bill had never been passed?

I think it is an important distinction and may be one reason why the county no longer wants to continue with an eminent domain or condemnation process. The court probably would take into account the fact that a stadium will be built on the land and will adjust the price accordingly. The county may want to negotiate for the land at a pre-stadium legislation price.

Having said all of this, I received a letter today from Mike Opat, HC Commissioner and leader of the county's stadium effort. Although he doesn't answer my question above, he does shed some light on what the county is thinking concerning this increasingly troubling process. Mike writes that he is hopeful they can work out the remaining issues, but that there is a real chance that the negotiations will break down if the two sides can't come together. Mike mentions that the county may need to walk away if Lambrecht and Pogin remain uncooperative.

It is a shame that the Rapid Park site is the only site in play, truth be told. As far as I can tell, the enabling legislation does not specify a location besides Hennepin County. Could another site be put in the mix? Another environmental impact study would have to be done which would delay construction, but if the county walks away from this process they are still collecting those pennies. Why couldn't Hennepin County pick a different site? Unfortunately they might have to. Truthfully I would prefer a site along the river anyway.

Now, I know that the chances of this happening are very remote considering that delays cost millions extra in stadium costs, but stranger things have happened. I would definitely prefer that this deal is worked out. However, Mike Opat wrote further that Lambrecht and Pogin are not being "reasonable" with their demands. He ended his letter with the statement:

We will stay the course for a little while. But you may be chronicling the demise of the effort ... On the upside, all other parties are reasonable and we continue to resolve issues and make progress.

Opat also described that at a recent meeting Land Partners II announced that Bruce Lambrecht and their lawyer Dan Rosen would handle negotiations for them. This is very odd for me to read given that this contradicts the letter Rich Pogin recently sent me which stated, "For the record I [Rich Pogin] am the person in charge of negotiations and legal matters for the partnerships that own the land. The County knows this because I negotiated the option with the city and county in 2004." This does indeed seem a little inconsistent and unorganized.

And again, what does Opat mean by "reasonable?" Is being reasonable accepting a price for the land that the county can afford? A price that would have been reasonable if the site wasn't the future location of a new Twins ballpark? I can't say for sure, but I definitely know one thing. I DO NOT want to "chronicle the demise of the effort."

I remain hopeful that this will all be worked out, but the county does seem to be reaching the end of their rope. If anyone has any other insight to all of this, please enlighten me. I'm not in panic mode yet, but I am getting there.

Posted by snackeru at January 10, 2007 8:33 PM


sounds like a lot of posturing and sabre rattling to me, but I am not close enough to the situation (in fact, all I know is what I learn here).

However, as a litigator I can tell you that there is an 85% chance they compromise. It is a game of chicken that once again the fans could be the big losers, but both sides have too much to lose not to get the deal done.

Posted by: jlichty at January 11, 2007 12:14 AM

jlichty, I am comforted by your comments. An 85% chance of compromise sounds good to me. I am still thinking things will work out, but I certainly wish we didn't have to worry about this anymore. It makes me too jumpy.

Posted by: Shane at January 11, 2007 8:51 AM

There has been The Treaty of Paris, The Treaty of Versailles, the Camp David Accords...

I believe there needs to be a Greet Machine Summit! We can get all the parties together at the Summit Brewery again, have them hash it out. We'll feed them brats, chips, coleslaw, nachos and peanuts and get them all loaded up on wonderful Summit beer. They'll all get loaded and be all "I really love you" and they'll sign a fair agreement. What say you?

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at January 11, 2007 9:10 AM

I think Cheesehead Craig is on to something.....

Where's Jim in St Paul?

Posted by: MOJO at January 11, 2007 9:19 AM

Did someone say Summit?? I offer my mad bartending, beer pouring, cigarette lighting, amateur psychology skills to the proceedings. In return, a tall glass of Summit IPA would do the trick!

Posted by: zooomx at January 11, 2007 9:34 AM

You know, this whole sticky issue goes back to a rushed, 12th hour legislative "hurry up offense" attempt to draft a stadium bill. The whole deal just seems not well thought out.

I can just see showing up for the first game and everyone realizing at the same time..."they forgot to build a freakin' scoreboard!!" or "No #@&*%^$ing home plate!!"

Posted by: zooomx at January 11, 2007 9:38 AM

I think perhaps we need to take a page from former governor Ventura's book and lock the Hennepin County folks, Land Partners II folks and whoever else needs to be involved into a room with Franklin (the former first dog) or some equivalent source of "natural gas" until they hammer this out.

Posted by: Mark at January 11, 2007 10:58 AM

Summit is always open to further the ballpark cause! It is a shame there is no chance of St. Paul getting back at the table. There is probably not much of a chance of a Hennipen County tax paying for a ballpark in St. Paul. One can dream, can't he?

Posted by: Jiminstpaul at January 11, 2007 1:24 PM

This is the comment I've been waiting for! Jim suggesting Hennepin County pay for a St. Paul ballpark! I knew it was coming ...

And CC is right, we should get together at Summit and hammer this out. Now that Jim has agreed I think all we need to do now is set the date.

Posted by: Shane at January 11, 2007 1:28 PM

Look. I don't have any inside information on this at all, but in my experience, any dispute over money will settle around 85% of the time.

While, I am not nearly farmiliar enough with the budgetary issues the County is claiming it has. It sounds like posturing to me. While, it is true that this was a 12th hour legislative effort, the amount of money at issue , to the best of my recollection, was not changed throughout the process -- that wasn't the issue -- so whatever it took to get it passed at the last minute did not affect how the deal itself was financially structured.

Do you really think after 12 years of trying to get a stadium, the Twins would have let a bill with insufficient funding go to the legislature. It is posturing, pure and simple -- I don't know by which side, but it is posturing.

were not rushed or changed at the last minute, but rather were part of the package the whole time.

Posted by: J. Lichty at January 11, 2007 3:32 PM

There we go. Jim has the locale and the beer, Shane has the contacts to get the parties there, I'm sure we can get some company to cater this thing. Let's do it!

Just tell them all that it's a relaxed get-together to share ideas and to engage in some light discussion on the issues. What is there to lose?

The parties will come, after all, what self-respecting businessman passes up free beer? Summit Brewing is seen in a tremendous light and should this lead to something, they'll not only have a huge debt of corporate gratitude from the Twins(never hurts to have that) but they'll have the undying love of tens of thousands of people and undoubtedly increased sales.

Shane gets his new stadium (and likely season tickets that he shares with me, the brains behind the idea) and everybody goes home happy. Let's get this moving!

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at January 11, 2007 8:59 PM

"My question, though, is would an eminent domain proceeding value the land based on the fact that a stadium will be built there, or would the land be valued as if the stadium bill had never been passed?"

According to one Minnesota lawyer, Minnesota state law says: "Any increase or decrease in the fair market value of the property from the
project to be constructed may not be considered." Mpls-St. Paul Sanitary District v.
Fitzpatrick, 277 N.W. 394 (Minn. 1938).

Cribbed from Mark D. Savin, An Introduction to Eminent Domain Law and Practics: A Primer After the Grand Forks Flood (MSBA CLE June 5, 1997), at http://www.abanet.org/rppt/katrina/MarkSavin-INTRODUCTIONTOEMINENTDOMAIN.pdf.

The case cited above may not be good law anymore, I suppose, but it's not often that a precedent as well-settled as that gets overturned.

I would imagine a negotiated price, with a comprise amount somewhere between fair-market value and highway robbery, will be the result in any event. A litigated taking would cost more, take a long time, and more likely than not would scuttle the stadium deal altogether. As J. Lichty above says, it's a game of chicken.

Posted by: Expatriate Minnesotan at January 15, 2007 8:47 PM

Summit IPA is the best beer ever! How can they ctreat such a magnificent drink and not be able to solve this?

Posted by: bartender jobs at April 7, 2009 8:35 PM

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