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February 23, 2007

What is with the soil?

If you haven't seen the story yet, it can be found on KSTP.com in the video window on the right of the page. It is yet another interesting tidbit that sheds more light on this fiasco.

According to the news piece, the County may have another $10 million to play with if the two sides can agree on the condition of the soil the stadium will sit on. Apparently the County thinks a lot of work needs to be done, $10 million worth of work, on the soil or the stadium will sink.

The land owners, our friends at LPII say the soil is fine and their own experts, whose credentials include working on the Sears Tower in Chicago and the Petronas Towers in KL, Malaysia, say the soil is more than adequate on the Rapid Park site.

The story ended with Opat calling the issue "backnoise" and asking the landowners to come back to the negotiating table with a counter-offer.

There are a couple of good things to take away from this: 1) the landowners seemed to have approached the County with this idea and 2) I must admit I am willing to believe that the soil is fine.

Now, I am not a soil appraiser and it would behoove the County to be as careful with this as possible. If they capitulated and gave LPII that extra $10 million, then started digging only to find that the soil was in fact in need of major work ... well we would have a problem.

However, the very fact that the landowners seem to be excited about $10 million extra can be taken as a sign of something very good. Can we conclude that they might be willing to begin negotiating again if the County's offer was more like $23 million? It is something we have all suggested on these pages, and I think it is turning out to be true. $23 million may not be the final price they are looking for, but it sounds like they would be willing to talk with the County again if that number was made official.

Posted by snackeru at February 23, 2007 4:38 AM


Maybe we can just make the stadium out of dirt and stone, just like the real old days when men were men and women were proud of it. That would take care of the soil issue as we would be putting more dirt on it.

It could be like the building of the Pyramids. Heck we could even get some Egyptian slave drivers over here for the full effect.

Look at how much in awe people still are of the Coliseum and the Pyramids and the Sphynx. MN would truly have a stadium the whole world would envy.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at February 23, 2007 9:05 AM

Shane...Anymore info on the super secret meeting today?

Posted by: MOJO at February 23, 2007 9:11 AM

so LP II says the soil is the hang-up. it seems if they simply made a counter-offer, you know, negotiate, there would at least be a framework to move the discussion along. if everyone sat down with an arbitrator i don't see why this couldn't be resolved. people have to put their personal issues aside.

Posted by: mullen at February 23, 2007 9:51 AM

I'll just say this. Hennepin County has cleaned up a lot of polluted sites (brownfields) in recent years, so I think they a pretty good level of experience with soil quality issues.

As I recall, the price tag went up on the new Gopher football stadium already due to poor soil conditions requiring additional structural supports.

Who honestly thinks we should believe LP II's side of this story over the County's? Of course they're going to argue the soil is just fine. That said, I agree with mullen that there should be a pretty straightforward way to resolve this.

Posted by: Mark Snyder at February 23, 2007 11:54 AM

If the issue of soil was really a potential issue, why is it now just coming up? This would have been question # 1 or 2 on the initial questionaire (the other being the price) and not something raised this far down the road. This process did not just start last week. I will bet a beer for all greeters that this issue was addressed and resolved prior to the county's origional purchase back in 2004. More double-talk. GET THE DEAL DONE!!!

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at February 23, 2007 12:04 PM

The soil issue is another feeble attempt by LPII to deflect blame and criticism from themselves.

Of course they are going to say the soil is fine and the county is undercutting them based on something that isn't true. Why would they admit if the soil had issues?

But I agree...how did all of this stuff not get settled long ago...primarily a good faith if not signed agreement on PRICE of the LAND!

Posted by: mlb2131 at February 23, 2007 12:32 PM

Good LORD for the naiveness here.

There is zero intent to sell this to Hennepin County. LP 11 is playing this out to do nothing but raise the apparent value of the land to the market.

Accordingly the land was worth 13.5 million in 2004, but now in early 2007 it is worth something in excess of 23 million. Now at that rate of increase; don't you think they know it behooves them to hang on to the land for a couple of years more.................????? Or do you think they should do baseball fans a favor, take the 23 million and invest it in a bank CD paying 5.5??????

Posted by: kent at February 23, 2007 12:54 PM

If the soil's bad, the stadium will sink? We should build it anyway, just to show 'em. If it sinks, we can build a second one. If that one sinks, we'll build a third. If that one burns down, falls over, then sinks, I'm pretty sure the fourth one will stay up. Then we'll have the strongest stadium in all the land.

Posted by: spycake at February 23, 2007 12:58 PM

yea we're all naive, we bow to your smug greatness. some of us are just trying to understand a complex issue. sorry if we're not all tax appraisers.

Posted by: mullen at February 23, 2007 1:18 PM

Yes, I must take issue with this "naive" comment. You have an opinion Kent, nothing more, and I certainly welcome it. But please, there are definitely other valid opinions.

Posted by: Shane at February 23, 2007 1:21 PM

Gid er done!

Posted by: Lucha Libre at February 23, 2007 1:38 PM

I brought this up many moons ago and I even called into Sid and got cut off rudely (imagine that). The site is frickin over Basset Creek! Did the really think they could just throw a stadium over that?

Posted by: Jiminstpaul at February 23, 2007 2:14 PM

Spycake, then we find someone who has a daughter with "huge tracts of land" and Pohlad marries off one of his sons to her so that they can build there :o)

Posted by: Freealonzo at February 23, 2007 2:22 PM

here's the bassett creek background. this site has comprehensive analysis of the intricacies of our beloved rapid park lot.

Posted by: mullen at February 23, 2007 2:43 PM


Accordingly the land was worth 13.5 million in 2004, but now in early 2007 it is worth something in excess of 23 million.

The 2004 purchase agreement was for $13 million PLUS a significant portion of nearby land. That could well translate to $23 million in 2007, if not more. But don't worry -- I'm not offended by your "naiveness."

Posted by: spycake at February 23, 2007 3:15 PM

Shane...Any updates on the super secret meeting today?

Posted by: MOJO at February 23, 2007 3:18 PM

OK MOJO, here is what I know. I have been told this is the first meeting to explore possible ways to bridge the gap. It is unlikely any decisions will come out of this meeting since it is the first. I have begged my contact to let me know if things went well or not. We'll see ...

I have also been looking into soil issues around the area of the Rapid Park site and let me tell you it is fascinating (heavy sarcasm). The Target Center actually had soil problems and they had to drive piles over 100 feet to get to bedrock. This also drove up the price of the Target Center. LPII must think it is unnecessary to do that here, but Mortenson (the builders who also built the Target Center) probably think otherwise. More later.

Posted by: Shane at February 23, 2007 3:27 PM

Kent- The land in 2004 was worth 13 mil- but that was 8 acres the city was taking, minus 5 acres they were swapping. A net of 3 acres equalled 13 mil in '04. NOW, it's a net of 10 acres, for the same price?? That's insane, and a difference of about 30 million dollars! And in regards to the soil- If LPII was just blowing smoke that the soil is fine, would they really be willing to go to binding arbitration over it? They have sent a letter to the county informing them that they are willing to accept the binding authority of an arbitrator over the soil's condition, and the county hasn't even responded. So who's blowing smoke? Doesn't seem like LPII. And in regards to the soils condition- the experts working for LPII include the same man who not only worked on the sears tower, three of the largest buildings in downtown minneapolis, but actually did work on what is going to be the tallest building in the world (in Dubai). Take those credentials and compare them to the people working for the county. Ignore for one minute the prejudice against LPII and try and be objective- Who are you going to believe?

Posted by: Ralph the Dog at February 23, 2007 3:51 PM

Or maybe we should just wait and see if the Dubai building sinks. It is after all practically built on sand.

Posted by: Ralph the Dog at February 23, 2007 3:53 PM

Well, shoot.

If the Target Center had to be structurally reinforced, how could it possibly be a problem for a LARGER facility to be built practically next door, on the same kind of land, without structural reinforcements?

I take two conclusions from this:

1. LP II has no argument at all on this issue and I don't see how a judge/panel/arbitrator could be persuaded to take their side in face of the evidence Hennepin can offer.

2. Hennepin really needs to grow a pair and get going on this thing, already!.

Posted by: Mark Snyder at February 23, 2007 3:55 PM

This is an interesting question and if the site has poor soils, the County is well within its rights to ask for a reduction in price to compensate for the needed soil corrections. The thing is this should be easy to determine with soil borings. It appears that the two sides are contesting the results of the soil borings, however an independent analysis could probably come up with an answer.

The thing is, all this could be done during the condemnation hearings, if the County would just get off its ass and initiate quick take.

Posted by: Freealonzo at February 23, 2007 4:19 PM

"2. Hennepin really needs to grow a pair and get going on this thing, already!."

My thoughts EXACTLY. This is the COUNTY's responsibility to get this thing done. Sure, the land owners may not be helping the situation, but Opat and Co. need to pick things up immediately.

Posted by: Erik at February 23, 2007 4:24 PM

Mark S- I am in no way implying that the stadium wouldn't need to be reinforced, and if you read a little more analytically you would know that that wasn't what I said. So, to clarify for you, first I am merely questioning the credentials of Hennipen County's experts verses the credentials of those working for LPII. Secondly, I am suggesting HC's position on the soil may be disingenuous based on their unwillingness to go to arbitration. And most importantly I am questioning ONLY the amount of money necessary for reinforcing the structure and NOT the necessity of reinforcement all together.

Posted by: Ralph the Dog at February 23, 2007 4:34 PM

Thanks Shane

Posted by: MOJO at February 23, 2007 4:50 PM

Shane when will you know more about the secret meeting? Later on tonight, tomarrow?

Posted by: troy at February 23, 2007 4:56 PM

If Shane tells us, it will no longer be a secret.

Posted by: kevin in az at February 23, 2007 5:05 PM

yah i know but i dont like secrets. i am just trying to figure out what is going to happen with all of this, if we are getting a stadium or if we arent getting a stadium, you know?

Posted by: troy at February 23, 2007 5:07 PM

yes troy...take a pill...i was being sarcastic...

Posted by: kevin in az at February 23, 2007 5:14 PM

May I also point out the somewhat obvious fact that there is a difference between each of the following- size, wieght, and density. All of which factor in to the need for reinforcement. So the ball park and the target center may in fact be very diffrent.

Posted by: Ralph the dog at February 23, 2007 5:22 PM

To all of the Greeter "soil experts" and "O-Putz".
Binding arbitration means that they live with whatever is decided. It does not mean "only if it decides in my favor" So, who is the only party who has not agreed to the binding arbitration? Could it be that by agreeing to the arbitration and actually having the hearing like right now (this week or next week), HC and the Twins will be exposed for the smoke screen they are sending up to devert everyone from the real issues? Force the issue. Make BOTH parties step up and finaize the deal. I want an outdoor stadium and in 2010.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at February 23, 2007 5:35 PM

Wish we already had a glimpse of the new design, but know, LPII just had to get greedy.

Posted by: Lucha Libre at February 23, 2007 5:49 PM

The more I read about this the more irritated I become at the Hennipen County Commissioners for being so timid about this. Don't get me wrong, I applaud them for having the guts to take this up in the first place when noone else would. But this stadium is a long way from being built.

Along the way there are going to be many 'issues' and 'concerns.' They can't cry Chicken Little every time one of them comes up. It took a lot of courage for them to pursue this in the first place, but now they seem to lack the fortitude to plunge ahead at the most crucial time. Right now, there's a snag getting the land acquired and concern whether or not the soil is OK. But as they start construction, other issues will surely emerge. They do in the best of cases, and will even more so on a small site.

Getting this stadium built requires some real conviction on the part of the county. They can't stop every time there's a snag and stick thier finger in the air to check the breeze before deciding whether to continue. If they're going to do this they need to quit sticking thier toes in the water, jump in with both feet and pledge to overcome whatever issues will surely arise.

Posted by: David Howe at February 23, 2007 8:59 PM

Wow, nothing new to report! actually I couldn't tell if there were.

Posted by: Lucha Libre at February 23, 2007 11:09 PM

Wow, nothing new to report! actually I couldn't tell if there were.

Posted by: Lucha Libre at February 23, 2007 11:09 PM

I don't feel at all sorry for those greed SOBS, LPII! wcco.com/topstories/local_story_054194723.html
Anthing more than 20 million dollars beyond ridiculous, the only anger I have towards HC, is their inability to grow a pair and proceed with condemnation. According to the story LPII is asking for 40 Million dollars. That is beyond greedy! C'mon HC, grow a pair, proceed with condemnation NOW!!!!! These clueless A**holes (LPII) are never gonna get it!
LPII, you can write all the letters to Star Tribune, cry all you can to KSTP, WCCO, and KARE, you're STILL the villianas!! Greedy A@#$@$##@!

Posted by: Lucha Libre at February 23, 2007 11:25 PM


Posted by: lucha libre at February 23, 2007 11:26 PM

Where the heck is Tim Pawlenty in all of this? He's friends with the scummy LPII! Why can't sit them down and have a come to Jesus chit-chat with them! Can't any leader in this state have the gonads, C'mon Opat, grow a pair, and get going with the condemnation, C'mon T-Paw, grow a pair and help get this thing DONE WITH ONCE AND FOR ALL!!

Posted by: Rick at February 23, 2007 11:41 PM

i think it's a good sign that both sides are making noise. i like to see reps from LP II give their side. i think we just have to be patient as the ice in this fight is just starting to break a bit.

Posted by: mullen at February 23, 2007 11:50 PM

I agree, let's proceed so we can get the stadium built. The comdemnation will also bring out the real facts of who actually did and said what. Don't get dragged into the mud over the soil issue. It would have come out years ago if there way even a hint of a problem and HC would have included it in their 2004 purchase agreement. Strange how not even one mention until the 13th hour, isn't it? If this "soil issue" ends up causing a delay in the stadium and there is no soil issue, who are you going to blame (this one is easy)? There is going to be a lot of mud on faces of the people getting all bent out of shape over the wrong facts because HC and the Twins are thowing out mish-mash and double talk to avoid the real issues. The Twins and "O Putz" need to get this done and stop with the mud slinging.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at February 24, 2007 8:02 AM

completely agree with others that the county needs to move forward with condemnation.

What's the largest risk here...that it gets valued at $30MM maximum? That's $17 extra million from the $13MM offer.

A deal that took over 10 years to make happen, has a total price tag of over $500MM, has a contribution from the Twins of $120MM, has a live and active county sales tax funding it right now......could all collapse over $17MM???!!!

I just don't understand how they haven't already figured out how to close the gap and then go ahead with condemnation!!!

Posted by: mlb2131 at February 24, 2007 11:16 AM

I wish I had more good info, but the local structural engineer is going to be HGA, and they will have a soils report stating recommendations regarding piles vs spread footings.

Obviously, piles are more expensive, but I don't think it's $10mm more expensive. Probably on the order of $1mm.

I work for a competeting structural engineering firm, and we were "this close" to getting the project. ...

Posted by: drake33 at February 25, 2007 12:54 AM

Regardless of the cost of pilings vs. spread footings, I wonder if it really will impact the present issue (land value). If LPII were to build a different structure there, it may not need the same reinforcements as a massive stadium. Hence the "market value" may not be terribly impacted by the special requirements of HC's preferred implementation.

I suspect we will also hear more about general issues with the land/soil which would affect any development on the site.

Posted by: spycake at February 25, 2007 10:07 AM

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