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March 1, 2007

It is about time!

Even with the snow storm coming, the sky is a little sunnier for me today. The birds are chirping, and the sounds of children playing in a gurgling brook are wafting through my senses.

If you are anything like me, and the fact that you are reading my drivel on a daily basis probably suggests you are, you have seen this column by Sid Hartman today. Sid writes:

With Hennepin County commissioners unable to negotiate a price with landowners on the selected site for the new ballpark behind Target Center, Twins officials have gotten involved for the first time in trying to solve the problem by holding discussions with both sides to try to settle on a sale price.

Good, good, good. I've said it before, but I'll say it again, the Twins can either decide to pay more now, or pay a lot more later. Because if the County is forced to change sites, the Twins will be forced to pay for all those ballpark specific construction cost overruns. Changing sites makes a lot of sense for the County since it would be easy for them to stay within their $90 million cap on another piece of land, especially if they own it. As we've all heard, there is a 40 acre spot of land near 94 and the Mississippi, and the City of Minneapolis already owns it. Quite frankly I might even prefer a spot on the River, but it is in all of our best interests if the Rapid Park site works out.

Sid ends his good news with this reality check, though:

At this point, no progress has been made. The consensus among those close to the negotiations is that the Twins, who already have committed $100 million to the cost of building the ballpark, might have to contribute to buying the land to ensure the ballpark will be built.

Whatever the Twins are doing right now, it probably hasn't included putting up any money. Discussions are probably centering around how much it is going to take to bridge the gap, and hopefully brining LPII back to the table to actually negotiate.

And that brings me to the second part of my write up today. I received an interesting note from Rich Pogin yesterday in which he tried to clear up some misconceptions he thought I had written a couple of days ago:

The County representatives have repeatedly said they do not want to pay fair market value for the land if it exceeds their budget. We are a willing seller at fair market value. The County is not a willing buyer.

Regarding the 2004 Option for the ballpark site, between the Partnerships that own the land and the City of Minneapolis, I personally negotiated the economic terms of the Option with the two top Hennepin County finance people and with the participation of the City of Minneapolis staff. Everyone at the table knew that it was the County that would be assigned the Option rights and would exercise the Option.

The County made a written request for renewal of the Option in August of 2004 (not the City) which we turned down. They admit we turned them down. For the County has imply that some deal existed for the land is absurd and it not supported by any facts.

Shane our position on the stadium is the same yesterday, today and will be the same tomorrow. The County can have the property, today, for its fair market value. We are willing to let the court determine that value. We are a willing seller at fair market value. The County is not a willing buyer. I think their strategy of attacking us first on this issue to cover up the fact that they are not a willing buyer was brilliant. They got people to believe we are not a willing seller with no facts to support their claim. But the truth has a strange way of always working its way out!

Here is what I don't understand, I guess. In fact I think there is a huge misunderstanding about all of this. Let's just get this out of the way: the County is a willing buyer, and LPII are willing sellers. They just seem to have different ideas of what that means. The County wants to negotiate and LPII wants to go through the courts.

I think it is a bit ridiculous at this point to suggest the County is not a willing buyer. I will concede that the County took LPII through the ringer and that probably caused some bad feelings, but the County right now is practically begging LPII to come to the negotiating table.

The County has always maintained that it will pay fair market value. They want to determine that value by attempting to negotiate a deal. I am mystified as to how the County can be portrayed as the stubborn party here when the LPII will not negotiate. Nor will they even name what they believe fair market value is.

Come to the table LPII!!! Rich, please, please, please, try to negotiate! If the County won't beg, I certainly will. With the Twins stepping in, they are not going to want to go through the courts. They will not agree to this blank check strategy. They want to know what their burden will be up front and I don't think anyone can fault them, or the County, for that.

Here is hoping that we will soon see an end to this. Today's news was good. I hope tomorrow's is better.

Posted by snackeru at March 1, 2007 6:41 AM


I'll also beg if that's what it takes for LPII to negotiate. If they're such a willing seller (as Pogin claims) then why wouldn't they at least show up for negotiations? If they're totally offended by the County's initial offer, they can walk out, but the fact that they haven't even submitted a counter-offer really upsets me. I don't ever want to hear anyone with LPII claim they're a willing seller at fair market value until they show up for negotiations. Until that happens, I don't buy it for a second. They're looking to take their chances that a judge will award more than market value, and that should become obvious as we all analyze this situation. Like I said a few days ago, nothing would make me happier than seeing the County proceed with the quick take, with a judge awarding $10 million for the land. LPII doesn't deserve a penny more than market value, and at this point, I'm almost willing to say that at the expense of a Twins ballpark.

Posted by: Aaron at March 1, 2007 9:39 AM

"the Twins can either decide to pay more now, or pay a lot more later. Because if the County is forced to change sites, the Twins will be forced to pay for all those ballpark specific construction cost overruns."

Shane, this is not necessarily true. If the County is forced to go back to the legislature for a new site, what is stopping the Twins from demanding that the County share in the increased costs due to "delays of finding a new site." If I was the Twins, I would certainly demand that a provision similar to that be put in the new legislature. The Twins could say "we were willing to pay for construction cost overruns based on a project that was scheduled to break ground Spring 2007 at the Rapid Park site. The situation has changed, so our willingness to pay has changed."

Again, points to the fact that the County needs to get this project going without going back to the Legislature.

Posted by: Freealonzo at March 1, 2007 10:04 AM

How about a new Vikings venue (with retractable
seats), either in Saint Paul or in a suburb? The
Twins could use that stadium for a few years, tear
the Dome down, and build a ballpark on the Dome's
current site. Wherever the Twins' ballpark is to
be built, the Vikings' new home should include
retractable seats in case the Twins need at least
short term use of it (be it sooner and/or years
from now). A rectangular or an oval format (like
the Dome) gives better sightlines for each sport
than many round ballparks offer. Thanks.

Posted by: CK at March 1, 2007 11:17 AM

Freelanzo, I think what is stopping the Twins from playing the "it's your fault HC, you should pay" card is that the legislature would be irate if they did that, and any chance of ammended legislation passing would be killed

Posted by: D Howe at March 1, 2007 11:22 AM

That's my impression also, David. The Twins would be morons to try to force the County to amend anything but the site. Whatever amendment that becomes necessary should not include any extra financing language. If it does it is dead on arrival. HC knows this. The Twins should also, but who knows.

CK, all I know is that the Vikings front office (the Wilf brothers) must be slitting their wrists over all of this Twins stadium mess. Their chances at the legislature this year are less than zero.

Posted by: Shane at March 1, 2007 11:26 AM

If this was June 1, 2006 rather than March 1, 2007, you would probably have written that LPII would be morons not to play nice and sell their property to the county. The fact is that money talks, especially when we are talking millions of it. I agree that the legislature wouldn't look kindly on a ballpark bill if the Twins were trying to re-negotiate but they aren't going to look favorably regardless. Plus the Twins would have a pretty good argument that they are willing to pay for construction overruns but never anticipated the County not getting the job done on securing a site. New situation, new agreement. All I'm saying is that if this goes to the Legislature, don't be surprised when you read in Sid's column that the Twins want to look at their agreement with the County.

Posted by: Freealonzo at March 1, 2007 11:42 AM

what if LP II shows up and they throw out $100 million for a number, would that make everyone feel better? Because thats about as likely to happen as the $13.35m. But thats considered a negotiation right? The point people are missing is that $13.35 is not even a fair starting point, is not a good faith offer, and really isn't negotiating either.

Yes, the County is a willing buyer- as long as they get the land at their price! The county never wanted to negotiate, they always intended to condemn. Watch their actions, do not listen to their words. "Negotiate" is political cover for them. Let the court decide on value, that's the law. The county started the condemnation, not LP II.

Posted by: Moonlight Graham at March 1, 2007 11:47 AM

Thanks Moonlight, that was the point of my post the other day. Blaming LPII is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at March 1, 2007 12:20 PM

As far as I know, LPII has told the county that they would be willing to negotiate if the eminent domain suit was dropped. Until then, for them to enter into negotiations would be absurd.

Posted by: Ralph the Dog at March 1, 2007 12:23 PM

Ralph- While I completely agree with your asessment, at this point negotiations are sort of pointless anyway. Now that the judge as put a 120 day time line on the matter, Hennepin County and LPII are probably both better off waiting to see what the determined value is. If the value is determined by june or july, the twins should still be able to meet the 2010 timeline, and it would save both parties from having to deal with eachother. Of course if the determined value comes in way over $13 mil (which is most likely) Hennepin County may be out of options, but at least it would give them time to try and come up with the necessary funds.

Posted by: Stryder at March 1, 2007 12:27 PM

Oh yeah? All you have stinky breath and throw like a girl.

So there.

Posted by: Shane at March 1, 2007 1:02 PM

Carl Pohlad needs to build his own stadium with his own money.

If Pohlad had built his stadium with his own money years ago his team would be worth double what it is now and he would likely have all his stadium investment money back in the form of that increased value.

But he wants Minnesotans to build it for him with our money so his team is worth double what it was without the new stadium so his family can pocket the increased in his team value.

Baseball Stadium Opponents will fight to the end to protect Minnesotans from enriching this family. How do I know this? They keep telling us.

Posted by: jeff at March 1, 2007 2:31 PM

Just to clarify - those last comments were NOT from frequent contributor JEFF T. I actually like having fun things like baseball stadiums in my city. Having Major League Baseball makes a city more interesting.

That was not me.

Posted by: Jeff T. at March 1, 2007 3:01 PM

Jeff, (not Jeff T.) GFY!

Posted by: RichP at March 1, 2007 3:36 PM

I just don't get LPII's stance. "They are not willing sellers" even though they've publicly made an offer doesn't quite make sense to me.

The only way this could be true is if there's more happening behind closed doors that we're not privy to. I'm guessing that LPII has made an offer, it just hasn't been made public knowledge.

Shane, if you can get more information from Pogin, that would be awesome. Push him to see if they've made an offer. Even $50mm is a starting point.

Posted by: Drake33 at March 1, 2007 3:43 PM

Jeff, I'm glad there are so many Minnesotans like you who get so much pleasure out of knowing that because of your courage and conviction, when Carl Pohlad goes to the Great Beyond his net worth will only be 1.3 billion instead of 1.35 billion. Take that Carl! It must take a lot of bitterness to derive such satifaction.

Me, I'd rather just be able to take my niece and nephew to a baseball game outside and watch Joe Mauer hit a double or Justin Mourneau a home run. That's why I want a baseball stadium. I could give a rat's behind about what small incremntal financial gain Carl Pohlad may realize because of it.

Posted by: David H at March 1, 2007 3:47 PM

I'm with Freealonzo above -- if the site-specific bill gets amended for a new site, and projected construction costs rise significantly, I doubt the Twins will stand idly by.

Posted by: spycake at March 1, 2007 3:59 PM

The Twins are still advertising New Ballpark priority....I think thats a good sign.

Posted by: MOJO at March 1, 2007 4:59 PM

The Twins are still advertising New Ballpark priority....I think that's a good sign!

Posted by: MOJO at March 1, 2007 5:00 PM

Having just been turned on to the greet machine a short while ago, I really like the inside scoop here that I can't get anywhere else. Having said that I would like to say that I am absolutly mystified at the mess thing has turned into.
Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't LPII own some land around the stadium site that will be developed because of the stadium. And won't the county and state make tax money off that development? It really sounds like a winning situation for everyone including the Twins.
You would think these people would be falling over themselves to get this thing done and start raking in the cash.

Posted by: kms at March 1, 2007 5:23 PM

Last night was a roast/going away dinner for Larry Dowell the outgoing St. Paul Chamber of Comerce President. Jerry Bell and Dave St. Peter were in attendance. I hear there was much trash talking regarding Mpls/HC not being able to get the deal for a ballpark done. In previous interviews Larry stated his greatest regret was not getting the ballpark in St. Paul. If this thing goes back to the legistlature to amend the site, do you think there are some crafty east side of the river reps that could totally throw this site thing back up for grabs and would the Twins play along?

Posted by: Jiminstpaul at March 1, 2007 5:54 PM

any attempt to play with the financial parameters of the ballpark bill is a non-starter. they can trash talk all they want. a redrawn ballpark bill to site the park anywhere but in hennepin county would require state dollars and/or approving a new tax in a new municipality. that's very messy and is not going to happen.

Posted by: mullen at March 1, 2007 7:30 PM

The Twins should select a bigger site than Rapid Park. It seems easier to work with fewer constraints! Figuring this out is not hard.

Posted by: Chris at March 1, 2007 8:09 PM

I for one am happy to finally have
a Government sticking up for the
Bottom Line. The Commissioners
could have tipped over, felled by
Public Pressure and paid more than
they should have. But they have waited
smartly. Mean while, Pansies on this
Site have said they would "BEG" the
Land Ownership Group to begin talks
on land purchase. NO. I would like to
see a New Stadium but I am not
completely comfortable with the way
it will be financed. Given the
Controversy, I am happy that the
Commissioners are being responsible
and waiting for either the Land Ownership
Group or the City of Minneapolis or
the Minnesota Twins Business itself to
chip in a little extra to get this done.
My understanding from this Site and
others on the WWW is that the Twins
are in charge of Designing the stadium
AND YET the Commissioners are paying for
two-thirds of it. To be quite frank, the
Minnesota Twins are getting a terrific
Deal here and the Commissioners Board
has Nothing to gain by caving in to Public
Pressure. HOLD FAST, I say. I am now
just an ' Old Timer ' and out of the Mpls
Real Estate Business, however, it is
truly sad to see the way the Land Ownership
Group have conducted themselves in this.
MY ADVICE to the Commissioners is to
WAIT until the Deal is right from All
Parties involved.

Posted by: Leo N. at March 1, 2007 8:35 PM

Anyone else tired of anti-stadium, anti-tax folks around here? There's got to be some different blogs specifically tailored to them.

Moonlight, you're point about the non-starter status of HC's opening offer is valid. Furthermore, the reason that LP2 hasn't countered, is not only because HC's offer was embarrassing, but also because the legislature has handcuffed the county with no money. If you're selling your house and a homeless guy shows up for an open house and wants to sit down at the kitchen table and start negotiating, how fruitful are those talks going to be. It's not the best analogy, but it works.

It's about time the Twins get off their collective ass and get in the game. I'm sure Sid will declare them saviors, but I for one will not give them extra credit for something they should've been doing from the beginning of this fiasco.

Posted by: Ray Kinsella at March 1, 2007 8:53 PM

Yeah, Kinsella, it's a great analogy. HC's a homeless guy. A homeless guy with $13.5 million in his pocket.

Posted by: WTF? at March 1, 2007 9:20 PM

Here's an article from the StarTrib...sounds like the Twins will either have to pay the extra, or have the site moved...


Posted by: Erik at March 1, 2007 11:43 PM

Sorry Shane, but after reading this quote in the latest Star Tribune, I have no reasons feel sorry for these jerks, LPII, I know you tired to give us their side of story, but after this quote from todays story, they come off as a bunch so snide scum!

"Nobody would be interested in the county's deal," said Rich Pogin, a spokesman for the partnership. "We'll go back to operating our parking lot."

What a f***ing douche!! what else is there to say about it.

Posted by: RichP at March 2, 2007 1:05 AM

Mr. Pogin, in all due respect, you have shown/"grown" some balls as many of the eloquent readers have referred to. However, I have ONE QUESTION, and ONE QUESTION ONLY, why did you lobby for your site to be the site for a baseball stadium. Other than the fact that your stupid 'stache went out of style in the early 80's? DO you honestly think that pit is worth more than a couple million. It's a p.o.s parking lot and that is the only reason it is THE CHEAPEST PLACE TO PARK IN MINNEAPOLIS. Stop pretending it's important.. without a stadium, the land surrounding that area is more worthless than the a garbage burner. At least burning garbage serves a purpose... you are an embarassment to all Minnesotans!!! DO YOU REALIZE THAT THE RAPID PARK SITE IS WHERE PEOPLE PARK BECUASE IT IS THE MOST WORTHLESS AND CHEAPEST PLACE IN THE ENTIRE CITY TO PARK.. COINCENDANCE, I THINK NOT, IT'S CHEAP BECAUSE IT SUCKS, IT'S A HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, PIECE OF PROPERTY!!! TAKE WHAT YOU CAN GET YOU GREEDY BASTARDS.. IF NOT DON'T GET PISSED AT ME WHEN I TOLD YOU SO! WHAT A CRAPPY PIECE OF LAND... YOU SHOULD BE LUCKY TO GET SHIT OTHER THAN THE COUNTY TAKING THAT DITCH OFF YOUR HANDS... YOU SHOULD HAVE TO PAY THEM!

Posted by: chi_town2 at March 2, 2007 1:15 AM


Posted by: jonny8 at March 2, 2007 3:49 AM

Chi Town,

Excellent post. With that wisdom we can certainly value Walmart as being a completely worthless stock. Your acumen for business is only eclipsed by your restraint for unnecessarily using capital letters.

Posted by: Ray Kinsella at March 2, 2007 6:48 AM

"We'll go back to operating our parking lot."

I sure hope sales are down!

Posted by: frank at March 2, 2007 7:03 AM

I for one will never park there again.

Posted by: D Howe at March 2, 2007 8:04 AM

gotta have some more patience. what do you expect their front man to say? they want to reap maximum returns on their investment. it's all part of the game. i think their is a bit of light here at the end of this tunnel. the twins realize it. if they want this badly enough and desire to keep the franchise viable in this market, it's going to take some more dollars. in the grand scheme, it's not a ton of money. they can pay now or pay a whole lot more later by doing nothing. i don't believe they want to go back to the capitol next year to nurse a new funding bill through the legislature. the stakes are high, it's the future of the franchise. is that worth an extra 10-20 million to reap the cash cow benefits of a new ballpark where they keep virtually all revenue? it seems a no-brainer.

Posted by: mullen at March 2, 2007 8:55 AM

Patience is right. We all know the Twins have to come through because they have a sweetheart deal here and to let it disintegrate is bad business.

However, if you read some of the posts on this site, you'd get the impression that people expect Larry Pogin to come out and say "don't worry Minnesotans, we'll negotiate hard, but in the end we'll give up the land for whatever HC wants."

...or you'd think that people expect the Twins to come right out and say, "Don't worry Minnesota, anytime there's a problem with the stadium we'll rush in and write a check."

The reason these folks are shrewd business people is because they DONT make the stupid statements that people want to hear.

The stadium deal will eventually get done because it is in the selfish best interest of EVERY SINGLE PARTY that is involved in the negotiations. The parties that are opposed to the stadium are NO LONGER PART OF THE PROCESS.

Posted by: tato at March 2, 2007 9:45 AM

Again...the Twins are still advertising Stadium Priority in the new ballpark. Do you think they wouldn't be doing this was going to fall through. I hear advertisements for it all the time!

I agree....patience is key at this point. We are talking about a ton of money...its not going to just happen over night. The Twins will get this done and soon...they want it to open in 2010.

Posted by: MOJO at March 2, 2007 10:09 AM

The point is valid that the piece of property is not good, it's one of the worst parcels of land for condo development in the entire downtown district.

The land is not worth what they're trying to extract. The condo market is more than oversaturated and it's just a crappy parking lot...and that's all it would be for years to come.

It's a very good spot for a ballpark, but really nothing else considering the supply and demand for condos, and considering that there are dozens of better locations to live downtown than there.

And the ballpark potentially being there is not supposed to be a part of the price. Period. LPII is being extremely greedy and they are slime as far as I'm concerned. The appraised value for tax purposes is $8Million for God's sake!

I want a ballpark more than anyone, but I don't want the Twins and HC to give in to these guys either.

That said, the Twins need to step up...they've waited 15 years for a ballpark deal...they can't let this slip through their fingers.

Unfortunately LPII knows this and they are greedy aholes taking advantage of the situation for their own benefit...even though the land isn't worth nearly what they're asking.

Posted by: mlb2131 at March 2, 2007 10:22 AM

well maybe it is worth a lot more, we'll find out soon enough. the rail projects and train platforms are moving to constructtion, no matter this deal. it'll be nice to just have a number, not speculation. everyone has a price and wants to get theirs, i don't begrudge people this point. as i said, it will refreshing to have the matter of the site's value settled. we're still in the limbo period. the time for the twins to twiddle their thumbs is over and thankfully we are least seeing some cracks in the ice. hopefully come officially spring, there will be a thaw.

Posted by: mullen at March 2, 2007 10:53 AM

MOJO, I used to think the same thing about the Twins advertising new ballpark priority. But, they did that when the worthless "city-only" bill was passed in 2001 too. They aren't guaranteeing that a ballpark will be built, only that IF one is built, you will get priority. "We will take your money now, and if there is a ballpark, you will get good seats." I wouldn't put any stock in this at all.

The only thing that gives me hope is that the Twins stand to lose $40M per year if this doesn't get resolved. The Land Owners stand to lose millions because their land is worthless without the County buying it; and Pogin and Lambrecht know this. (A transit hub? You have got to be kidding.) And, the County stands to lose because they will look like idiots if this doesn't get resolved. Money drives everything, and this situation should be no different.

Posted by: Derek Robertson at March 2, 2007 10:56 AM

Shane, you should start a JV website for people like MLB2131.

- If the land is so crappy, then just have the court decide how much its worth. Then maybe the County can get a discount - but given that they havent let the court decide, most likely they know its really worth MORE than was offered.

Bottom line, if they are greedy for wanting a fair price for their land (and their investors) then I think every property owner that reads this site could also be classified as greedy.

Posted by: Moonlight Graham at March 2, 2007 11:35 AM

I'm greedy.


Posted by: JBN at March 2, 2007 11:39 AM

Rich Pogin - please put your head on straight and quit looking at the courts for a landfall arrangement. You and your parnters are NOT a willing seller and you are kidding yourself if you truly believe that. If you were a "willing" seller why haven't you submitted a counter-offer? I deal in real estate and I've never at least countered an offer I thought was unfair. At least then we would all know how far off the two sides are. All this says is you are hoping the courts give you more than the fair market value for your land, well I for one hope the courts give you less than FMV and then charge your group for the pollution clean up you greedy punks.

Posted by: NTC at March 2, 2007 12:02 PM

their land isn't worthless. the northstar commuter rail and hiawatha light rail will terminate at the rapid park site. this is the main reason rapid park makes such a good site for something a lot of people will travel to utilize, ie, a ballpark. this is the reason this deal has to happen and i still think it will. everyone can come out a winner if the twins will just agree to help reach the number. the twins in fact, will ultimately reap the biggest financial windfall.

Posted by: mullen at March 2, 2007 12:34 PM

Moonlight, LPII hasn't even provided a counter offer!!! How does that make them a willing seller?

The land is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. I'm willing to bet that nobody is knocking down the LPII guys' doors asking about that crappy spot when the condo market is completely oversaturated and cool, and there are dozens of better places to live that are already built, being built, or on the market.

LPII is taking advantage of the situation because they know that there is only 1 buyer that can use that space...and that's HC and the Twins.

$13.35MM is 67% higher than the tax appraised value of the land ($8MM). I think most people would accept an offer on their home that is that much higher than the appraised tax value.

LPII wants it decided in court because they know that's their only chance to get an unfairly high amount for a peice of land with little value without a stadium. Leaving it in the hands of a judge is their only shot at a high amount, instead of leaving it in the hands of economic supply and demand (and true value) if there were no stadium deal at all.

They're greedy and taking advantage of the situation...it's clear as day.

Posted by: mlb2131 at March 2, 2007 1:47 PM

Mr. Pogin will be appearing on Almanac tonight, ch. 2, at 7. I believe TPT 17, (13 on cable) re-airs the show on Sunday mornings.

Posted by: mullen at March 2, 2007 2:07 PM

it's getting more interesting. everytime i start to lose interest they just drag me back in. calgon take me away!

Posted by: mullen at March 2, 2007 3:40 PM

Why hasn't dave st peter updated the stadium news on the twins' website since feb. 13? he must know what is going on here. in the end, i still think they will get their stadium. jerry bell won't let this fall through after all of the years he has been trying to get this thing done. they are way too close.

Posted by: victor at March 2, 2007 4:00 PM

I'm sure Dave St. Peter knows more about it then any of us. But nothing 'official' has really happened for weeks. He can't post rumors or attacks on LPII on there. What's he supposed to update it with?

Posted by: David Howe at March 2, 2007 4:56 PM

Watching Poser Pogin on alamanac tonight,

Just to clarify does Hines hold an option on purchasing the property from the poor widows of Lady Pinchers Part Deux?

Posted by: frozao2128 at March 2, 2007 7:24 PM

MLB, where are you pulling these numbers from? Once again, numbers being thrown around which have no validity or basis. Should we add these to the many other bogus numbers that the others have thrown out also with no basis or fact? I really find the 67% number an impressive manipulation of bogus numbers. What is your source? Just don't say , "HC" or I want to tell you about some ocean front property I have for sale in Arizona.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at March 2, 2007 9:16 PM

Having watched Mr. Pogin on Almanac tonight and after reading the StarTribune articles a few things are clearer to me but not surprising:

1. There won’t be any more negotiations with Hennepin County.
2. Now that this has become adversarial the LPII attorneys will not let them put out any counter offer or other information until required by the court.
3. There are likely to be other complications with the Rapid Park site which haven’t been fully disclosed yet and which may make the $90MM budget problematic even given a settlement with LPII.
4. The Twins, and in particular Mr. Pohlad, were caught totally off guard by the land issue and blame the county for not having it “tied down?. They will not be interested in paying for what they consider to be someone else’s mistake. They won’t simply donate more money to the project but may do it in exchange for a way to extract it back out (with interest!) in some other area.
5. Without money coming from some source, i.e. the Twins, the entire stadium project is in serious jeopardy.
6. The project can’t stay on “hold? until late June waiting for a land value determination.
7. Too much of the planning and decision-making was put off until after the legislature approved the project.
8. The county would prefer a different site but neither it nor the Twins want to go back to the legislature and face the questioning and criticism. It’s getting to be too late in the session to introduce something new and controversial.

I’ve always had a feeling that this was too big and complicated a project to be taken on by one county, especially when there was the time pressure of possibly losing the team if something wasn’t done last year. That’s not bashing anyone. They’re only human and this is an immense project.

I continue to wonder why people consider LPII to be stadium promoters when in reality they are nothing but land promoters and have always behaved that way.

What will probably happen in the end is that the county will force the Twins to put up more money or they’ll just drop the entire project. I don’t think there’s enough votes on the commission anymore to continue this project much longer.

Posted by: Ray at March 2, 2007 10:44 PM

Thanks for the summary Ray.

Not a real optimistic summary though.

Posted by: Erik at March 3, 2007 12:49 AM


"We're already hitting our first cost overrun in the construction of a new Minnesota Twins ballpark, as Hennepin County officials tell the Twins ownership the acquisition of a key downtown parcel will cost more than anticipated and that the team may need to pony up some cash to close the deal. The county had appraised a chunk of land owned by Land Partners II at around $13 million, but it appears as though the owners have finally settled on a price of $21 million or so for the land -- more than the county has budgeted. While the county and the Twins talk, officials are evaluating other land parcels in Hennepin County, but we continue to hear the two parcels identified here last week -- the Minneapolis Farmers Market site and land owned by the Star Tribune west of the Metrodome -- are the only serious contenders. (There's little chance the Twins would acquiesce to a new ballpark in suburban St. Louis Park or Brooklyn Park.) Some in the Twins camp argue the Star Tribune site is the best location anyway, but some high-level team officials are also arguing for the Twins to pony up $8 million or so to close the deal. Complicating things: county officials are finding the parcel is harder to develop than anticipated, as issues with a neighboring train line and environmental issues with a creek running underneath the property are complicating matters. No doubt it's a tough parcel to develop, and many are realizing the chances of associated development in the area may be limited -- a lot more limited than on the Star Tribune site, which is on the edge of an up-and-coming neighborhood thanks to the presence of trendy restaurants, lots of condos and the new Guthrie Theatre."

Posted by: mullen at March 3, 2007 12:58 AM

This all makes sense. A friend of mine wrote Reusse to take issue with the personal nature of the attacks against the landowners. Far from apologizing Reusse said that he had just begun on the personal attacks. Deep down my gut told me that the Star Tribune would get involved with the land portion of this, why not use their soapbox to manipulate public opinion to set them up in a sweetheart position to be part of the new ballpark. It worked for them 30 years ago when the Metrodome was designed.

Posted by: Ray Kinsella at March 3, 2007 1:16 AM

anything that gets a ballpark built. most of us could really give a crap about the feelings of any entity, be it pogin's crew or the startrib. i would think some hurt feelings pale compared to a windfall worth tens of millions of dollars.

Posted by: mullen at March 3, 2007 1:31 AM

Ray K, don't take the Reusse comments to heart because 1] he is so far down the food chain regarding the property, that he probably does not even know where the property is and 2] he changes his tune on people and events quicker than does the wind on Lake of the Woods. Stay tuned for when the stadium is approved as he will be joining in it's praises and for the people (and I'm not refering to the "O-Putz or government(s)) who actually wanted the stadium. Was the trib offering up the land two-three years ago when the process was in full swing? No, and why not?

P.S. Per the Ballpark Digest quote, do we have still another unsubstantiated number to add to our growing list of bogus numbers?

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at March 3, 2007 8:36 AM

I think ray's summary from almanac was way off, I could pick up on a desire from Pogin to get this thing done through Hines. He must be a stadium hater.

Posted by: Susan at March 3, 2007 8:50 AM

i don't know, but the people who write at ballpark digest seem a bit more "plugged in" than you or i. don't take the reusse comments to heart? oh boo hoo, my heart weeps. the star trib land wasn't offered up until now because the paper ownership just changed hands and the new group wants to unload it. you know, like LP II, they are investors who want to make some money.

Posted by: mullen at March 3, 2007 9:02 AM

If the Ballparkdigest.com article is right about the landowners wanting $21 million, then this whole dispute is ridiculous. Give them the stinking money and start digging. However, since they've never made a counter-offer, where are they getting this information from? If the Twins and HC are really hmming and hawing over $8 million though, they're being very foolish.

As for Ruesse and the Star Tribune having an agenda to get it moved there, I don't buy it. First of all, Reusse is hardly a Star Tribune lackey. If he's attacking Lambrecht or Pogin, it's because he personally dislikes them for whatever reason, not becuase his bosses told him to. Second, who the "Star Tribune" is currently in transition with thier sale, so thinking that there is a conspiracy with them wanting to sell thier land for the stadium is silly. The new owners may not want to move thier facilities.

Posted by: David Howe at March 3, 2007 9:12 AM

I have often said that I will remain "on the side" of HC as long as LPII refuses to name a price for their land. I will continue to assume that is a ridiculous, outlandish price like $40-$60 million. However, if Ballpark Digest is correct when they say LPII is asking to $21 million, and HC and/or the Twins refuse to bridge the $8 million gap, I'm officially "switching sides." $8 million is the cost of a relief pitcher. But, we'll never know until LPII names their price.

Posted by: Jeff T. at March 3, 2007 9:19 AM

Having read a couple of other articles Ballpark Digest.com linked to, they appear to have pulled this number out of a Skyway news article. It simply stated that the county initiall valued it at $21 million and subtracted $8 million for the soil and LPII disputed that. Nowhere does it say that LPII thinks $21 million is an acceptable offer for the land. I think any assumption that LPII only wants $21 million is probably way off. I too would still assume they probably want thier $40-50 million.

Posted by: David Howe at March 3, 2007 9:22 AM

Didn't that letter from Pogin to the county that was posted a few days ago indicate that the soil difference was worth about $10 million, though?

While not definitive, I recall reading that and getting the sense that the difference between the parties was inferred to be $10M or less...

Posted by: tato at March 3, 2007 9:36 AM

I'm quite certain I've read on a few occassions that the appraised value of the land for tax purposes is $8MM. So the 13.35MM offer is 67% higher than that.

Just wanted to clarify since someone called me out on this.

Of course, the appraised value for tax purposes isn't what the land is necessarily worth...but an offer that's 67% higher is pretty strong in my opinion.

As for the other discussion recently above. I don't see any way that the number LPII wants is only $21MM. It seems pretty clear that they're seeking much much more than that.

So much that they're afraid to let the public know what that figure is.

Posted by: mlb2131 at March 3, 2007 10:23 AM

It may be a pessimistic summary in my earlier post but one of the reasons I threw it all out there (and expected people to challenge it) was to counter Erik Eskola’s statement to Sid Hartman that “this is farther along than people think?.

If you are to believe him you almost have to disbelieve virtually everything that’s being written or said by everyone else. There may be an imminent breakthrough here but if so, it’s the best kept secret since D-Day.

I view Mr. Pogin’s appearance on Almanac as a PR ploy to dispel the notion that LPII’s investors are greedy landowners trying to take advantage of the situation. You can tell from his comments that this was a scripted presentation using carefully chosen language. If something was going to happen soon it’s unlikely he would have been making the appearance.

One question that might be useful to have answered – Did Almanac ask him to be on the show or did he ask to be on it? If he asked to be on then maybe he was trying to signal something.

Posted by: Ray at March 3, 2007 10:36 AM

I give Eric Eskola's statement more credence then most. He's a pretty well connected guy at the capitol. Now maybe the people at the capitol who told him that are not as in the loop as you think, but I would think the HC Reps and Senators are in the know on what is going on.

Posted by: David Howe at March 3, 2007 10:54 AM

folks this is not tough, land partners arent putting out an asking price because if they did they would look as greedy as we know they are.

Posted by: Vince at March 3, 2007 11:15 AM

Vince - Bingo!

Posted by: Jeff T. at March 3, 2007 11:26 AM


It's quite clear they're afraid to even say what they're asking since they refuse to counter offer. They're too cowardly and embarassed to even put the figure out there, because they know it's absurd and they'll get killed in the media.

Posted by: mlb2131 at March 3, 2007 11:36 AM

I was on this morning again with Ruesse and Soucheray (kind of a Sat. morning habit), talking about the Rich Pogin interview on Almanac. Ruesse mentioned that he has been contacted by Aaron Kahn regarding an interview with the Land Owners, but has refused if they will not "name their price." He said an interview would be a waste of time.

Also, and more importantly, the subject of Hines came up and he said "there are rumors that this could all be settled within the next few days." He didn't elaborate beyond that, but it might back up what Erik Eskola told Sid the other day. Who knows? Just reporting what I was told....

Posted by: Jeff T. at March 3, 2007 12:10 PM

You state, "As for the other discussion recently above. I don't see any way that the number LPII wants is only $21MM. It seems pretty clear that they're seeking much much more than that."
First, define what you mean by "much more than that" or SHOULD I say, GIVE ME THE NUMBER!
Second, what is your source for"...It seems pretty clear that they're seeking much much more than that." unfortunately, it seems about as clear as mud to most of us. We would all love you to clear this up.

You further state, " It's quite clear they're afraid to even say what they're asking since they refuse to counter offer. They're too cowardly and embarassed to even put the figure out there, because they know it's absurd and they'll get killed in the media."
First, please supply what "...the figure" is you are referencing.
Second, what is your source for "...the figure"?

Clearly, you must be very intimately involved in the process and negociations to have assess to "the figure" and we would all like you to share it with us. Even more clearly, we would love to hear the source of this information you are refering to so we can clearly understand the situation as clearly as you seem to clearly see it.

Posted by: Jimmy Jack at March 3, 2007 12:24 PM

If anyone wants to get a sense of how cheap Carl Pohlad is take a look at the Strib's Saturday Business page. The article is about a tailor who is making a $5,000 suit for Pohlad. They bring the suit to Carl and he complains about the price. The tailor lowers the price (they don't say how much in the article).

Now it just so happens that Carl's net worth is roughly 5,000 times higher than mine. So Carl's complaining about the price of a suit that would cost me about a dollar! And it's any wonder why we can't get the Twins to pony up and get this thing done?

Posted by: freealonzo at March 3, 2007 12:27 PM

well i'm glad people are talking and doing interviews for the right reasons, to actually hash this thing out. if it can't work than just move on, but give it the best shot possible. this is still, at the end of the day, a win win for everyone. god, sometimes things in this state take and act of God to get done.

Posted by: mullen at March 3, 2007 12:41 PM

It’s amazing to watch all the people who keep begging and pleading for Pogin to “negotiate?. Stop bugging him – Hennepin County was the one that sued his partnerships in District Court on Nov 3 when they filed the petition to take his property via eminent domain.

Land Partners came up with the ballpark idea in 1999 and Hennepin County had 7 years to negotiate! Your question on negotiations should be redirected to the only party that really needs to answer these questions – start asking Randy Johnson and Mike Opat why they did not begin this last March or April during the session, in June, July, August or any time throughout 2006. Why was the first negotiation on January 9, 2007 (timeline on Kare 11 story)?

I suppose Pogin should have been calling Hennepin County daily and saying “please, please, please, I am begging you, please negotiate with me?. Get real; HC wrote into the law everything they needed to make sure they could to take the property via condemnation. They NEVER intended (see their actions in 2006, or lack thereof) to negotiate, yet you ridicule Pogin now for preparing their condemnation case.

Start bugging the guys who put Pogin in this situation. Hennepin County has over 7,500 employees, could just one have them been in charge of starting negotiations in 2006?

2 other points:

Why do people think this huge winfall of $ comes from condemnation? That isn’t the purpose of eminent domain, it would simply give assign a FAIR value to the land.

Would you negotiate with Opat when he tells you that his offer is $13.35, that is the absolute max offer, and you have 10 minutes to decide? Me neither.

Posted by: Moonlight Graham at March 3, 2007 1:21 PM


If Opat or Johnson had begun negotiating a deal with the landowner's before BOTH the bill passed in the Legislature AND the county officially implemented the tax (this occured in August) Weepin Penny Steele and the other two commissioners who HATED this plan would have been all over them and had thier jobs. That's why they didn't negotiate. As to what the delay was from August to January, well you may have a point there.

Posted by: David Howe at March 3, 2007 1:32 PM

i appreciate how stadium haters want to emphasize the negative and throw water on any slivers of hope. bravo, you've had a decade to hone your skills. ok, we'll stop "bugging him". gimme me a break already.

Posted by: mullen at March 3, 2007 1:37 PM

Moonlight, to argue two of your other points: The county initiating eminent domain does not excuse LPII from negotiating. It's not as if that was a shock to them or they had any reason to be offended by it. The idea is to negotiate a deal without the courts thereby saving everyone much time and money. The eminent domain is just supposed to be a fail-safe.

Second, HC never said $13.35 was thier max offer and they never said 'you have 10 minutes to decide". They said this is what our appraisal says this is worth. The logical next step would have been LPII to say "No, we think it's worth this much." Instead it was silence and "why don't you just sue us, we'd prefer that." LPII has no excuse for not making a counter-offer and negotiating in good faith. None.

Posted by: David Howe at March 3, 2007 1:37 PM

The Pohlads have more than enough money to cover
a new stadium's cost (with a retractable roof or
without it). The Twins will get much/most/all of
the revenue from this ballpark. If Pohlad would just pay the entire cost now, he could get a
stadium (would have it by now had he paid it long
ago). He is a huge reason (the main reason?) why
no new ballpark has yet opened! I like private
businesses, but they must act like private

Posted by: Chris at March 3, 2007 1:54 PM

David Howe - A land deal was worked out before any bill was passed by Legisture in 2004, what was different in 2006? And they didn't negotiate between August and January because they had no intention of negotiating - and they still don't.

$13.35 = non-starter. HC never tried to negotiate and I don't know why people think that will change. Again, do me a favor watch their actions (Like not negotiating in all of 2006), not what they are saying.

I really think this will work itself out, but the constant name-calling is getting old.

On a happier note, at least the Twins have the inside track again on the Mayor's Cup.

Posted by: Moonlight Graham at March 3, 2007 2:02 PM

David Howe,

To respond to your comment, "HC never said $13.35 was thier max offer and they never said 'you have 10 minutes to decide'".

That is exactly what they said, but the time frame was not 10 minutes. It was three hours, then the offer would be removed from the table indefinitely.

Point is they never negotiated in good faith. They were just the first ones to go complaining to the media, and the media in this town (like most towns) will always track the easy story rather than the accurate story. Unfortunately the economics of major journalistic outlets require that sort of hack mentality. Luckily guys like Shane can develop 'new media' outlets to facilitate debate and allow actual facts to present themselves.

Posted by: Ray Kinsella at March 3, 2007 2:18 PM

Thanks Ray, I thought I actually did hear that somewhere.

And to prove that was a "Max Offer", we all know the cap of $90 M, and how all but $13.35 was delegated to other land/ infrastructure. Therefore their offer was $13.35 (thats what was left over, not what they thought the land was worth).

Only last week did we find out the Twins would possibly cover some of the difference. Thats 2 months with a "Final Offer" from the County of $13.35M, with no means for covering any price higher, and absolutely no rooom for negotiation.

Posted by: Moonlight Graham at March 3, 2007 2:28 PM

And since HC is offering $13.35M, why has no one talked about the other $76.65M. Where's all of outrage over the greedy road builders who are going to (brace yourself) demand to be compensated fairly for their services. Those greedy bastards!

Posted by: Ray Kinsella at March 3, 2007 2:56 PM

Just watched Pogin on the Almanac website, and I didn't feel it was that negative. I still feel this deal will get done with the Twins involvement.

However, the more time I have to reflect, I am clearly starting to conclude that HC and the state govt is to blame here.

Everyone's argument seems to be that Land Partners is a bunch of greedy jerks, or that they aren't a 'willing seller'.

My question is: So what? Maybe they are jerks. I have to do business with jerks all the time. I make sure all my agreements with jerks are iron-clad and in writing. If HC really thought they could consider this a done deal based on assumptions and table talk, they are complete rubes in the business world.

I can put a sign in front of my house today that says it's for sale for $100k. If folks line up to bid I can decide that I don't want to sell at all, or that I want $1 million. That may make me a jerk, but until the purchase agreement is signed it is my right. If some dope actually thought he was gonna come into my neighborhood and buy a house for 100k and had already sold his house on that basis I'd say "Tough s&%t, that's life in the big city."

Posted by: tato at March 3, 2007 3:07 PM

And what do you call it when you expect someone else to hand you a new ballpark on a silver platter?

Posted by: BMac at March 3, 2007 3:21 PM

I haven't read anywhere that HC said 13 million was thier final offer. They've said they're not raising it until LPII shows them an appraisal or makes a counter-offer. Certainly the $90 million cap prohibits them from having a ton of room to negotiate. But do you think if if LPII asked for $26 they wouldn't be happy to negotiate to a mid-point of $20 million or so? As for that they were given 3 hours, the only one I've heard say that is Pogin. Even if they did say that, it could hardly be taken seriously. What was HC going to do 3 hours later, announce they were moving to a new site?

This whole thing was LPII's idea. They can't now start acting shocked at everything HC does, like they are some poor farmer whose land is in the path of a freeway. Oh look the big bad government is going to condemn our land! Oh no, the big bad government gave us a low offer and only gave us 3 hours to decide! The injustice!

The county certainly was naive to trust these people. But this was thier idea, and they were right there by the county's side saying what a great idea it was. That cannot be ignored here. I normally would have sympathy for the private land-owner in this type of case. But these people knew what was happening all along and agreed with it. Only once the ink was dry and they stood to make mint off it did they suddenly start caring so deeply about thier precious parking lot, and the poor, poor widows in thier investment group.

Posted by: David Howe at March 3, 2007 4:59 PM

Never has LP2 asked for more than fair market value. HC doesn't have that. Now that the Twins have finally entered the fray, negotiations are definitely going on. The chatter from the Twins is very consistent with that. It's also consistent with the fact that I'm sure they'll claim to be the good guys in all of this when it's done. When Pohlad's getting fitted for that $5k suit, make sure it's white with a matching cowboy hat. We all know the truth.

How would you guys have felt if LP2 would've given the land to HC for free, but retained the naming rights for the new stadium? Let's be clear, they're probably worth close to $70M, yet no one has a problem with the Twins pocketing that number.

Posted by: Ray Kinsella at March 3, 2007 5:30 PM

um, all we wanted was a real number. it's called negotiation. talking in circles isn't negotiation. pat reusse was correct not to grant them a public relations interview until they produce a number.

Posted by: mullen at March 3, 2007 5:36 PM

If the holdup here is $10 million or less shame on Carl Pohlad. If he absolutely cannot part with an extra $10 million, I propose lowering the payroll in 2008 from $70 to $60 million. Problem solved.

Posted by: John at March 3, 2007 5:46 PM

I usually don't comment much, but here goes..........

[QUOTE]I can put a sign in front of my house today that says it's for sale for $100k. If folks line up to bid I can decide that I don't want to sell at all, or that I want $1 million. That may make me a jerk, but until the purchase agreement is signed it is my right. If some dope actually thought he was gonna come into my neighborhood and buy a house for 100k and had already sold his house on that basis I'd say "Tough s&%t, that's life in the big city."[QUOTE]

I don't really agree with that. This not a personal attack at you either, M'Kay. The County and LPII have discussed this for years. It's not like the county just walked up to LPII and said, "We want your land and this is what we'll give you". It's the opposite. They've campaigned for HC and the Twins to put a stadium there. They have a sign on their property that says "Twinsville". They also have a website. They haven't updated it in a while, but the existence of it speaks volumes. Also, Is anyone else stepping up right now and saying "I'll pay you 15 million for it" Some would say they now have other plans for the land. If thats so, take down the sign, website, fight eminent domain, etc. Thats not gonna happen. I think they want to go through eminent domain because AT WORST, they'll get fair market value. At best, they'll get a windfall.

I can't blame them for trying to get the most they can get. It's the American dream. But lets not make them saints in this whole process.

I don't want anyone to think I'm pro HC either. They've done their share to screw this up. But lets not forget, these are elected officials. Maybe we should start to blame the people who voted for them.

But NO ONE is innocent in this. Pride and ego's have gotten involved at this stage and it's truly sad.

I just want a stadium, and I don't mind helping pay for it. I'm sure people will find holes in what I said, and thats fine. I just want EVERYONE to check the ego's, get to the negotiating table and get this done!!

Posted by: JBN at March 3, 2007 6:09 PM

JBN - good post - you should comment more often. I agree with you that there are no "innocent" parties in this. Also, you are dead-on about the Twinsville web site and sign at the Rapid Park site. They pushed this deal. Until LPII names their price, I will consider them "sandbaggers."

I will say this for the 1000th time, however. If LPII announces that they have been asking for $20 million, and HP has turned them down, I will "switch sides." Because I have no other data, I am assuming their asking for $40-60 million for their parking lot, which is absurd.

Prove me wrong, LPII. Name a price.

Posted by: Jeff T. at March 3, 2007 7:02 PM

Agreed. Good post JBN.

Posted by: David Howe at March 3, 2007 7:04 PM

LPII won't name a price....that makes it pretty evident that it's way too high...and not even in the neighborhood of fair market value. If it was...why wouldn't they just come out and counter offer?

And LPII pushed this thing for years. The website, the signs, the postcards, their love for this website before the deal went through.

They even made a DVD of old people at nursing homes that were big Twins fans that was presented at the legislature.

Posted by: mlb2131 at March 3, 2007 7:21 PM

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