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February 24, 2007

Of trifles and unsubstantiated rumors

Well, today I'm going to go all "Charley Walters" on you. Today I am going to write about a couple of rumors the contents of which I will neither back up with statements from individuals close to the situation or tell you where I got the information in the first place. Well, that's not necessarily true since I got the first rumor from a Google search. But it is certainly unsubstantiated so you can choose to take it or leave it.

First let me say that I don't know what the true nature of the "soils argument" actually is. LPII and their group of experts claim the soil is fine to build on which may or may not save $10 million, while the County and their experts have claimed that the soil needs work. We have speculated (nothing more) that the argument centers around whether or not to drive piles into the ground ala the Target Center that is close by. The Target Center construction called for driving piles into the ground more than 100 feet to reach bedrock. You may be wondering what this actually means.

Well a Google search I did brought up this document concerning Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego (PDF). The pertinent part of the document I will quote here:

1. Foundation – Qualcomm was constructed in phases that encompassed some 29 years, it does not have a common foundation system. The initial construction is supported by piling that transfers stadium loads to bedrock. The stadium additions are supported by large spread footings. The result is differential settlement between sections 42 and 43 of four to five inches. This cannot be economically corrected. There is little question that this issue affects drainage and other maintenance issues and will likely be an issue of any modernization attempt.

In other words, there is a difference between building a stadium with "spread footings" and building a stadium with piles into bedrock. As you can see above, the differences in San Diego mean that Qualcomm Stadium cannot be upgraded. In fact, the stadium seems to be out of whack enough where a new stadium needs to be constructed.

I don't know if this is what the dispute is about, but if it is over the question of "spread footings" vs. "piles into bedrock" I think the County is choosing the latter and for good reason. We don't want the stadium to sink.

Secondly, I have heard the rumor that a group of legislators in the Minnesota House of Representatives is planning on putting forth a bill that will "repeal the County's authority to implement the tax on the grounds they have failed to meet certain time commitments and milestones established and/or contemplated in the authorizing legislation." If the person that gave me this rumor would like to claim it, I will let him/her do so.

According to the rumor the bill authors are currently looking for a Senate sponsor, and when they find one ... well things might get harder for the County.

It would seem that if this is true the County needs to spend some money or make an agreement to do so quickly. Actually spending money would make it harder for the legislature to back out of this deal. As of yet, there is nothing about stadiums in the House according to the House Bill Search tool, but that could change shortly.

Again, this is just a rumor, but one I think has some merit given that we all know there are some legislators who would love nothing more than to see this deal crumble.

Tomorrow I hope to write about some information that I've been gathering that will hopefully make the County's case a little clearer. If you've got something else to add, you know the drill. Take the above with a grain of salt, or not at all. I leave it up to you.

Posted by snackeru at February 24, 2007 4:14 PM


Shane - thanks for the update. Here are my thoughts on your latest notes:

1. Personally, I'd rather have an outdoor stadium that sinks than the Metrodome.

2. I find it totally believable that a group of Legislators would get together and try and kill this bill. I am going to go out on a limb and say that Larry Pogemiller could even be called on (pure speculation, however)as a sponsor in the Senate. This is more proof that the Twins cannot, for any reason, go back to the Legislature. It is literally a "den of snakes."

3. I was on the radio again this morning with Ruesse and Soucheray talking about the stadium. Ruesse laughed about the idea of putting a "transit hub" on the Rapid Park site and thought it was a worthless idea. After my call was done, one of the Minneaplis City Council members phoned in to say they are looking into 2 other downtown sites. One was the Farmers Market site, and the other was along the river someplace. Ruesse actually liked the river site, but warned against going back to the Legislature (see point #2).

To sum up the situation - Condemn the land, spend some money, get building. It's getting to the point where they have to.

Posted by: Jeff T. at February 24, 2007 12:11 PM

Can HC just grow a pair already and start with the condemnation, I'll actually being cheering for MN house to repeal this if HC doesn't get on these greedy scumbags soon.

Posted by: Lucha Libre at February 24, 2007 12:17 PM

which minneapolis city council member are you referring to? that is important because some are more powerful and i would give their information more legitimacy than others. both houses of the legislature are headed by minneapolis reps., i highly doubt either of them would have their hands on something like shane is referring to. it's probably coming from a vehement, suburban, anti-tax nut. and even if if did pass to the governor's desk i don't see him basically sealing the twins fate and signing that kind of legislation. i think people just have to be a little more patient, there is, believe or not, a bit more time to resolve this. if may comes and there is nada happening, then i'd say the project is on life support.

Posted by: mullen at February 24, 2007 12:57 PM

No way the legislature repeals this.

I can totally see some anti-taxers trying to get some good press by introducing such legislation, though...

What would the basis be? If public projects get behind schedule we're gonna return the money that was to be spent on them back to the people?

Great, I hope to see a bill proposing a tax rebate for the Highway 62/I-35 fiasco then...

Posted by: tato at February 24, 2007 1:06 PM

tato, I absolutely agree. I can't see the bill being repealed. I wouldn't at all be surprised with some moron legislators giving it a try though If it happens I don't think we should get too worked up. Maybe just a little. I'm a worrier by nature (Norwegian and all).

Posted by: Shane at February 24, 2007 1:17 PM

I'm sure Phyllis Kahn won't be able to keep her mouth shut...Did she actually get re-elected???

Posted by: kevin in az at February 24, 2007 1:43 PM

Mullen - I am 99% sure it was Barbara Johnson. I was busy when they first announced she was coming on.

Posted by: Jeff T. at February 24, 2007 1:55 PM

if it was barbara johnson, (council president) than that means the wheels are spinning quicker toward site relcation. anything that gets us to justin mornueau ripping line drives over a grass field and under a moonlit sky, i'm for, lol. i'm intrigued about where on the river there is a viable site. hmmmmm

Posted by: mullen at February 24, 2007 2:05 PM

WCCO Broadcast
Did I hear the "O-Putz" say last night that LPII was asking $40MM for the land? This is very different that his comments to date where he has repeated said that the have never put a proposal on the table. First, which is it "O-Putz"? Has LPII given you a proposal or are you double-talking us again? Secondly, I know of some prime real estate in mid town NY or downtown LA with a value of less than the $40MM you stated they are asking. Is this another example of an "O-Putz doubletalk"? Well,is it? Get the deal done now because if this goes back to the legislature they will screw it up even worse than the Twins, HC and the "O-Putz" have messed up the situation so far. The "O-Putz is really giving the impression that he does not want a stadium.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at February 24, 2007 2:06 PM

The river location that was mentioned is Star Tribune land on the east side of downtown and from what I have heard the county, city, and new star tribune owners are very close to moving the site location to Star Tribune land creating a stadium district.

Posted by: Franklin at February 24, 2007 2:25 PM

so basically west of the dome, not techinally on the river, though. the only star trib land i can think of actualy on the river is their production plant across from boom island park. so basically we're talking the surface parking lots around the star trib building.

Posted by: mullen at February 24, 2007 2:38 PM

If you want to see this ballpark issue get even more complicated then the County should pursue the Strib land. First they would have to go back to the legislature, second the Vikings have "dibs" on that land and they may be kinda dead right now, but you never want to poke a stick at a snake.

Posted by: freealonzo at February 24, 2007 2:50 PM

I'm no architect, but I feel like the Qualcomm Stadium screw up is because they used both "spread footings" and pilings. The two types and the two ages of the foundations don't allow the stadium to seemlessly fit toegther.

Posted by: mike at February 24, 2007 2:52 PM

i hope this wouldn't have to go to the floors at the legislature cuz we'll neve hear the end of it. it looks like a new site is becoming more the direction they are heading. well now the LP II boys can build their dream grand central station....yea right. so that meeting yesterday was more about site relocation and less about bridging the gap to proceed at rapid park it would seem from the rumblings. so we're looking at a plan to fire walk at the capitol and a delayed opening date to 2011. great!

Posted by: mullen at February 24, 2007 2:52 PM

I'm all for a new location regardless of the delay. Garbage Burner Park just never had a good ring to it. Regardless if the new location is on or near light rail it should be on a different sight. People in MN still drive cars don't they????

The park should be built on a piece of land with enough room for all the amenities needed. MN doesn't need to build it's 3rd half-assed stadium.

Besides, more fun than watching baseball will be watching what LP2 does with their dream parking lot. Especially since they think it's worth $40 million, the county should asses property tax on them for that VALUED amount of theirs.

Posted by: kevin in az at February 24, 2007 3:15 PM

We are dreaming if we think that switching to a new location will delay it only one year. Plus we will have to go through the same garbage we are now (soil, low ball proposals, lies). They need to close on the current location. Condemn it today, build it tomorrow, open it in 2010.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at February 24, 2007 3:21 PM

Brookdale Mall never sunk..It sure stunk, but it never sunk...Build it there

Posted by: kevin in az at February 24, 2007 3:23 PM

No, the meeting yesterday was not about moving. It was definitely about making this work. It went well by the way (so my contacts tell me), and more meetings have been planned. I wish I could tell you more, but too much is at stake to start ruffling feathers. Believe it or not, people in the know actually read this crazy site.

My impression is that the County is pursuing a new site and the Rapid Park site in tandem right now with a slight edge towards the Rapid Park site. If they have to go back to the legislature all bets are off, and they definitely do have to go back if they want to change sites.

Right now I am hoping the county can find the money to bridge the gap in order to pursue condemnation. If you want to put pressure on anyone, put pressure on the Twins. They are going to have to step up.

Posted by: Shane at February 24, 2007 3:24 PM

ok, thanks for the clarification and information as always. you hear things and draw conclusions. i think government officials should stop calling radio shows. rapid park remains the best site for all the synergies it creates.

Posted by: mullen at February 24, 2007 3:54 PM

I like it when there's only 2 posts, when it says that there are 19 posts.

Posted by: Lucha Libre at February 24, 2007 5:03 PM

Would not the fans be better served if a new site were found and things were made to work in that regard? I can not escape the feeling that a new stadium should be "built right" regardless of all other factors.

Posted by: BMac at February 24, 2007 6:22 PM

The fans deserve a stadium, regardless of the site, or building it "right."

Posted by: Erik at February 24, 2007 7:02 PM

I'll take what Shane said about the meeting going well as great news, so far.

Posted by: lucha libre at February 24, 2007 7:24 PM

Will this nightmare finally end?

Posted by: rich at February 24, 2007 10:09 PM

I'm getting sick of Tony Spadafora at the Star Tribune talk forum, I hope this thing happens just to tick him off about his stupid Twin Domes complex not happening.

From Star Tribune talk:

"If the Twins stadium land deal debacle causes everyone to take a closer look at the entire Twins stadium plan, the whole deal just might fall apart.

The plan is not what everyone thinks it is if the 5-acres of land next to the stadium goes to the Twins instead of Land Partners as we were led to believe.

Without any cost overruns, the Twins stadium project totals $522 million. This does not include the value of various forms of tax relief like no sales tax on construction materials and no property tax obligation with public ownership.

Of the $522 million in stadium, land, and infrastructure costs, $130 million is privately funded and $392 million is publicly funded.

Most of the 5-acres of land that is supposed going to the Twins for a premium parking ramp is not included in the $522 million project and I don't believe it's mentioned in the legislation. (sneaky)

Most of the 5-acres is owned by MNDot... Hennepin County will probably end up paying Land Partners $25 to $30 million for giving that land to the Twins plus $13 million for the stadium site. That totals $38 to $43 million total compensation for the land.... I've heard Land Partners is asking at least $40 million.

Since Hennepin County is using tax exempt bonds to fund the $392 million portion of public funding... a new sales tax was instituted... Tax exempt bonds cannot be paid off with stadium revenues.

The Twins and other private stadium contributions can be funded with stadium revenues such as stadium "naming rights," and seat licenses. Parking revenues could also help fund the private portion.

Stadium naming right will be at least $5 million/yr and probably more. The "present value of $5 million/year for 30 years is about $75 million.

The Twins will probably sell $15 to $20 million worth of private seat licenses.

Premium parking ramp revenues could fund the rest of the $130 million private stadium contribution.

Did the Twins get a "sweetheart" stadium deal?"

Someone put a sock in this guy, grow a pair Opat, if not for all the good reasons, to shut this guy up!!

Posted by: Lucha Libre at February 24, 2007 10:19 PM

The idea that the legislator will try to repeal this is hillareous....and very believable. This is proof that they absolutely cannot go back thier asking to switch sites. They need to condemn immediately and start digging a hole. If there are problems they can deal with them then. Those who do not want this stadium will have a much harder time stopping it once it is already started.

Posted by: David Howe at February 25, 2007 2:26 AM

so david i just got off work. anything new going on with this thing? will the landowners and the county figure this thing out?

Posted by: troy at February 25, 2007 2:30 AM

Even more numbers being thrown around. let's add up all the numbers that have been mentioned so far from the various sources for the land for the stadium, $8MM, $13MM, $23MM, $40MM, $50MM. Have I missed any other numbers? A $42MM swing for the same 7 acres. You couldn't get that big of a swing from auctioning off the land on E-Bay. Any bets that everyone of these numbers are wrong? People are either intentionally throwing out wrong numbers for their own sake or people are stating numbers from no reliable sources. How embarrassed will people who are throwing out numbers be when the real numbers proposed and accepted are known. Don't fall for another O-Putz. He already has mud on his face.

Condemn the property today, start building the stadium tomorrow so we can have real baseball in 2010.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at February 25, 2007 8:11 AM

Lucha Libre,

That quote does raise an interesting issue. What about the 5 acres from the original LPII land swap agreement in 2004? All I've heard from HC is the vague statement that the additional acres are now needed for the stadium. But we've also had a report that the extra land has been promised to the Twins for "VIP parking" or some such thing.

I think this is a legitimate issue. If true, the Twins should definitely pick up any extra infrastructure costs, although for bargaining purposes I realize they'd want to keep such a decision private. But if this is the case, there really should be no need to draw out the process like this unless the Twins are just being obstinate. (It's not like that's ever happened before!)

Posted by: spycake at February 25, 2007 10:15 AM

more sites being pulled out of thin air in charley walters' column today. suddenly we have sites everywhere. for as much as the phrase "grow a pair" has been used around here, it is really becoming apparent the county board sees some huge political fallout if the condemnation number comes in inexplicitly high. if the twins want this, they will guarantee to help with the gap in the numbers. to lose all this over 10 to 15 million dollars is really very silly, after the amount of work that's gone into this effort at this site. the 40 acres on the river up there doesn't sound half bad for a vikes stadium, though.

Posted by: mullen at February 25, 2007 10:54 AM

These mystery 5 acres that are suddenly being discussed are again something new. Are these 5 acres in addition to the 7 everyone has been discussing? How much did the Twins' pay for these five acres I would assume they are buying from the county? If so, then these could help address some of the issues others have raised about the size of the site. I can't believe they would buy these five acres just for VIP parking. Has anyone seen the size of the parking lot at Yankee stadium? Even the players have to get their early in order to get a spot and you never hear this critisized.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at February 25, 2007 11:58 AM

relax, people. mullen is right. until the twins "step up to the plate" i cant blame the county for holding back on condemnation. y'all know that if the county only has $13.5 mil bugeted for land and the court comes back with alot more *everyone* on this site will be the first to criticize opat and the other board members for "jumping the gun". they are being smart by waiting for the twins to step up here before taking a huge risk on condemnation.

Posted by: Vince at February 25, 2007 12:38 PM

Agree, Twins need to step up. However, O-Putz is already being criticized because of his ineptitude of how he has handled the process to date. How do you get this far along without a deal for the land already in place? And, how can the county budget $13.5MM for the land or approximately 1/2 half the value of the agreement that was already agreed to by both parties in 2004?
Condemn today, start building tomorrow and open the season outdoors in 2010.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at February 25, 2007 1:08 PM

now that i think about it, there is like one road off dowling leading to that riverfront barge loading site. this is going to require a lot of infrastructure expenditures. they're just throwing snowballs against the wall and seeing what sticks it seems. just seal this deal please at the site that's been planned already!

Posted by: mullen at February 25, 2007 1:31 PM

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