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August 20, 2007

Moving in the right direction

First of all ... yikes! Going to the Twins game tonight was somewhat of a mistake. Garza got pounded, and Raul Ibanez looked like AL MVP material. Not fun. Fortunately for me, on the way to the Dome someone gave me 4 Upper Club tickets for free. So, at least I didn't have to pay to see the Twins get waxed.

Back to the matter at hand, though. The condemnation reward is set at 23.8 million and anti-stadium wackos are all hot and bothered by it so we must be moving in the right direction. I am pleased. The best article I found on the condemnation award comes courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio. Opat says:

"We would have been thrilled to have a lower number, more toward the $13.8, in the teens somewhere. The other side wanted 65. So I feel good the commission saw the wisdom in something much more reasonable than $65 million."

The award exceeds the county's land acquisition budget, according to Opat. The county set aside $23 million of its $90 million infrastructure budget to pay for land. But that was supposed to cover the cost of easements and air rights. The Minnesota Twins have agreed to contribute an unspecified amount of money to help the county pay for infrastructure. But Opat says they still may have to cut back on certain features for the ballpark.

This is not an unexpected reaction. The county wanted the number to be in the teens. It is interesting to note, however, that the county's total land acquisition budget was $23 million. I'm not sure how much easements and air rights cost, but hopefully the Twins extra contributions will make up most of the difference. And "may have to cut back" certainly sounds better than "will have to cut back."

The MPR article also has the only detailed reaction from LPII and Hines:

Pogin says he has several partners to talk to before making a decision about an appeal. But if there is an appeal, he says the members of the commission may be called as witnesses.

On Monday, commissioner Larry Tucker filed a dissenting opinion with the court. Tucker wrote in his dissent that the award should have been another $10 million higher than the number reached by the two other panelists.

Pogin says Tucker would make a good witness for his side.

I think it is a given that the land owners will appeal after reading that. According to the article, both sides have 40 days to decide to appeal, and a trial would being on November 13. Again, I am of the opinion that there will definitely be a trial. I hope I'm wrong, but $23 million is a lot less than $65 million. Also, if the land owners think there is any chance they could get that extra $10 million, you better believe they will go for it.

However, even if there is an appeal it would appear the maximum extra money the landowners could possibly get is $10 million. That is not an "end of the world as we know" it type of number. It would seem that an extra $10 million would most certainly affect the infrastructure in a negative way, but a ballpark will still be built, and we will still be watching outdoor baseball in 2010. The worst is over, and we came out on top.

Now, as Cheesehead Craig has already pointed out, it is time to think about chickens and pork chops on a stick at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. More about my plans for the fair in a couple of days. Until then, don't let anyone get you down. There will be green grass and open sky in 2010. That may upset some people, but it sure doesn't upset me.

Posted by snackeru at August 20, 2007 10:46 PM


But Shane...I remember Pogin saying months ago that he wanted condemnation and that they would abide and accept whatever ruling would come out of condemnation proceedings.

You mean to say that Pogin isn't a man of his wor....oops, that's right. They haven't done anything in good faith throughout this process. Never responding to Opat's original offer, never even coming to the table. They never wanted to negotiate, they wanted condemnation. Well Pogey, you got your condemnation, now choke on it pig!

Posted by: kevin in az at August 20, 2007 11:54 PM


To be fair, the appeals process is really a part of the proceedings. Furthermore, what choice does he have? He must accept the final decision. The gub'mint says so.

I think an appeal is certain, the question will be how much the jury decision will deviate from the arbitration amount. At least this gives the county a better perspective as to what the costs will be.

I'm sure a paper will get on this sooner or later, but I'm curious about the record of appeals on these proceedings. Do the awards usually increase? Decrease? Stay the same?

Posted by: Alex B at August 21, 2007 12:30 AM

I'm glad this is finally moving foward. It's funny how people can still rip Opat for not doing a better job of 'negotiating' this when the landowners asked for $65 million. He obviously never had a reasonable partner to negotiate with.

Shane, I think my $21 million prediction wins the pool. What do I win? Maybe 3 shots at STM and all of his aliases in a dunk tank? Just kidding.

Posted by: David H. at August 21, 2007 5:06 AM

You write: "However, even if there is an appeal it would appear the maximum extra money the landowners could possibly get is $10 million."

Hardly the case!

A JURY will decide the value in court and we all know how crazy jury awards can get. There is almost zero downside to a jury trial for the owners and tremendous upside if they get anti-taxes-for-stadiums citizens on the jury.

What are the odds of having mostly anti-taxes-for stadium-citizens on the stadium? The answer is the same as why stadium supporters feared a referendum on taxes for the stadium........isn't it?

Posted by: not a fan at August 21, 2007 7:43 AM

STM rears his ugly head again.

Posted by: Aaron at August 21, 2007 8:20 AM

If I remember correctly an appeal DOES NOT go in front of a jury but only in front of a Judge. Shane it would be nice if one of your sources could confirm that. Also if there is an appeal it would be nice to hear from someone who has knowledge on the proceedings. Do appeals typically win out? Where is the burden of proof? If the appeal is won is it typically for a few million more or tens of millions more. Who's responsible for attorneys fees etc.

I am guessing one of your deep sources could fill in Greet Machiners

Posted by: Freealonzo at August 21, 2007 8:30 AM

loverboy, the decision was two against one, so the county could call the two who went with the majority opinion as witnesses. the figure could go lower than 23.8 mil in a trial, but you're an ass so you assume things. in the wake of things like the bridge collapse, i don't think people are going to look so warmly on a group of millionaires and houston developers being even more greedy and arrogant. only someone with a huge opat mancrush such as you would look at the potential for getting 25 million less than you argued for as a win. be careful for what you wish for. now go french kiss richey pogin. so does aron kahn have a regular job or is he fully employed in the act of putting lipstick on these pigs? from journalist to second-rate pr work, what a career move. hines? yea, you can put that "twinsville" charade back in the closet, you're getting diddly squat for any development meant to feed off the ballpark. hahahaha

Posted by: mullen at August 21, 2007 8:52 AM

Free, actually according to the MPR article, an appeal would go before a jury. And let me reiterate, I would be surprised if a jury came up with a drastically different number than 23.8. Sure, one commissioner thought the number should have been $10 million more, but a jury would have to take into account the findings of all the commissioners. Could the number be higher than $33 million? I guess, but again I would be surprised.

I am also interested in who would be responsible for attorneys fees in an appeal. Is the county still on the hook if the number is 40% higher, or are all these numbers thrown out?

Posted by: Shane at August 21, 2007 9:32 AM

"A JURY will decide the value in court and we all know how crazy jury awards can get."

If this were a presonal injury case, perhaps. but since the "outrageous" awards in those cases come in the form of punative damages... i find it hard to believe that the apple and the orange have much in common.

as to the proceedings, i would expect a nominal uptick in costs based on a jury. but i would also consider that it's possible that when the testimony comes out about LPII and Hines not negotiating in good faith... that number could go smaller.

Posted by: CJ at August 21, 2007 10:30 AM

If anyone appeals, I would expect HC to appeal.

Posted by: kevin in az at August 21, 2007 10:35 AM

does anybody believe that Hennepin County would've actually negotiated up to $23 million without condemnation?

I think LPII definitely won because this event cost them nothing but time. Hines isn't out anything because Hennepin County pays the legal bills for this stage anyway. The $65 million dollar number didn't come out until opening arguments, which, from a strategy standpoint, could've been $500 million but had to be restrained to the highest number Hines felt it could justify by the current zoning and unit prices.

Hines and/or LPII didn't lose anything, LPII MADE 10 million dollars as a result of this effort. They didn't get all they asked for, so what, you can't lose what you never had. The only deal that was on the table was 13.75 (maybe upto 17). HC lost 10 million on this decision.

Posted by: donald at August 21, 2007 10:56 AM

To continue to "pile on" STM [hound dogs, get him!!!]

I love the logic. The "anti-tax" jury is going to award more public money to a land owner for a baseball stadium.


Posted by: Drake33 at August 21, 2007 10:58 AM

But I will say, that "donald" is right. They did make an additional $10mm by taking this route. Maybe they would only have made an additional $6mm or $7mm if they negotiated in good faith. But it's clearly an award that was on the Counties side based on the submitted figures of 13.5mm vs 65mm.

I asked ~2 months ago if the award comes in at $25mm who celebrates? I don't rightly know, but I'm happy with that number.

Say, a thought just hit me. What if that "renegade appraisal expert" is a partner of LPII/Hines?!? OMG OMG OMG.

Posted by: Drake33 at August 21, 2007 11:06 AM

But it's clearly an award that was on the Counties side based on the submitted figures of 13.5mm vs 65mm.

following that logic would mean that a 39.375mm dollar number would be a draw? that's ridiculous! Hennepin County offered 13.75 million, thats it. It never went up from there. The awarded number (so far) is almost double that. LPII is the clear winner here.

Posted by: chris at August 21, 2007 11:15 AM

Folks who are saying that HC lost $10 million don't get business. Period.

So if HC had bid $1 would you claim they lost $23,799,999 on the decision? If, prior to condemnation, LPI wanted $100 million would you argue they 'lost' 76.2 million on the decision?

Since LPII didn't make a counter (and had no incentive to), we have no idea where they would have ended up.

My take is it that if LPII didn't have the option with a strike of $25 million negotiations would have gone like this:

HC: "we'll give you $13 M."

LPII: "we want $30 million."

(...days pass...)

HC: "Ok, how about $17 Million, final offer."

LPII: "Maybe we could do $25".

(...more time passes...)

HC: "No way. This deal might fall apart."

Twins: "Wait a minute, we stand to lose a hundred million or more if this falls apart. We'll pitch in $8 and get to $25."

LPII: "Done".

Obviously I'm guessing on the numbers, but bottom line, LPII is 'around' the same place they would be if they had negotiated in good faith nine monthes ago (and, assuming an appeal, still await a final number). They are NOT big winners in this one.

HC knew they wouldn't get it for $13, but probably didn't want $25. However the second it went to condemnation they coulda done LOTS worse.

Net result: Better result for HC than LPII, horrible result for Hines.

Posted by: tato at August 21, 2007 12:15 PM

In the business world that makes sense. However this is our government (LPII's also), they're NOT supposed to "low ball" you and work up. They should be obligated (and I believe they are) to offer the fairer price in these dealings. If they did anything but that, then that's an abuse of power.

Posted by: STM at August 21, 2007 3:26 PM

what a rollicking contradiction.

if HC had offered that "fairer" price for the land STM, you would have likely soiled yourself. you would have been on here everyday under 23 pseudonyms ranting and raving about the county "getting taken to the cleaners"

The reality is that LPII was a "willing seller" at a price closer to 15-18M but then Hines got involved. The county bid at a lower price, and as anyone who has ever purchased a home will tell you, you damn sure come in with the lowest bid you think you can reasonably make. The give and take would have been fine, but I sense that Hines was in LPII's ear, telling them they had HC over a barrel, take them for everything.

I credit Opat for playing hardball with these jerks, he stepped up, and although he didnt get everything he wanted, he did pretty well here.

Posted by: CJ at August 21, 2007 3:58 PM

You're right. How dare I expect a government of the people, for the people and by the people to make an attempt at fair dealing. Had a less sophisticated seller accepted the opening offer from "their" government as fair, who would've taken advantage of whom? So now we have to add our government to the list of those who would take advantage of us?

Had HC offered 23M and the proceedings proved 23M as the fair market value, what could there be to rant about?

The bottom line is; Opat continuously represented confidence in their appraisal. Their APPRAISAL, required by law to take the best interests of the sellers into consideration, as in all instances of government seizure, was only off by almost double. What makes you think they have YOUR best interests in mind by building a stadium?

Posted by: STM at August 21, 2007 4:09 PM

I'd say they had my best interests in mind by building a stadium because I want one and it looks like I'm going to get it. Other people don't want one and their side lost. Tough bounce for them.

I don't always get what I want either. The difference is that I don't continually bitch and moan about it for months after the fact...

Posted by: Snyder at August 21, 2007 4:40 PM

"Had HC offered 23M and the proceedings proved 23M as the fair market value, what could there be to rant about?"

I'm sure you would've found something

Posted by: JBN at August 21, 2007 4:52 PM

STM's 'logic' gets sillier by the day!

The gov't has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizen to seek the best price it can. The fact is LPII isn't your theoretical 'less sophisticated owner'. Prior to condmenation this WAS a 'business world' transaction.

Do you think when MnDot requests bids for bridges that they tell the contractors up front what they are willing to pay for service X or material Y? Or that if they get a low bid they tell the poor 'unsophisticated' contractor that his bid is lower than the 'fair value' implied by the other bids and that he should bump it up a little?

You're truly a moron STM.

A fair price is determined when buyer and seller agree. Nothing more, nothing less.

Only when the process moves to condemnation is the Govt. obligated to pay some value set by a disinterested third party.

Posted by: tato at August 21, 2007 5:02 PM

Idealistic? maybe. But you're the moron. The government doesn't TELL companies what its going to pay for a bridge, or what the companies have to build it for. That's a stupid analogy and backasswards.

Posted by: STM at August 21, 2007 5:05 PM

"The government doesn't TELL companies what its going to pay for a bridge, or what the companies have to build it for."

...but apparantly in your pathetic and miserable world they SHOULD have told LPII what they'd pay for the land. (you know, that mysterious, golden, 'FAIR PRICE' you keep referring to)


You're the moron. Cross my fingers and no backs.

Posted by: tato at August 21, 2007 5:09 PM

If the governments fiduciary responsibility was paramount (as you propose), why offer anything?

Check out property rights and the laws that protect us against illegal seizure, like that altruistic constitution you belittle. Your pseudo political science education is showing!

Posted by: STM at August 21, 2007 5:11 PM

but apparantly in your pathetic and miserable world they SHOULD have told LPII what they'd pay for the land

Isn't that what they did? oh that's right, that's "positioning" by your government.

Posted by: STM at August 21, 2007 5:12 PM

"Isn't that what they did?"

STM you can see about 6 inches in front of your face.

When you bid on your home did you bid less than you were willing to pay? If the seller had agreed to it would you have apologized for your unethical abuse of his lack of sophistication and told him you were actually willing to pay more?

Didn't think so. HC shouldn't either.

Posted by: tato at August 21, 2007 5:27 PM

tato, one of use has to peer beyond the 6 inches in front of our face (insert joke here).

The government does not operate like private citizens. It is prevented by law from working in its own best interests, at the expense of its citizens. If that wasn't the case, there would be no illegal seizure laws or wire tapping laws; instead you'd have a government that would lie, cheat, steal and selectively deprive rights to impose taxes, seize lands, lie about WMD's to start wars, manipulate oil prices for the benefit of select few...oh wait, never mind. I guess we're living in a "tato utopia" and my personal hell.

Posted by: STM at August 21, 2007 5:35 PM

The government entered in to a negotiation with LPII. It did so in good faith, it made an offer that was, agreeably, low. It should do so as the buyer. They weren't barging in there saying "hand it over for twenty bucks". LPII, who during the early phases of this process expressed support for selling at the 15-18 million range in the begining... moved the goalposts.

but putting aside their lack of good faith negotiating, the county then condemned the property, as they are allowed to do by law, so long as they follow a well-established process for determining the "fair value". enter the third party, who says "a reasonable amount is 23.8 million" done and done.

In this case I am totally befuddled by you STM. You seem bent out of shape that the government tried to get the best deal possible for the land. Why is that a bad thing? I get that you oppose what it is to be used for, and I had always been under the impression that your oppostion was based on principles that, while I disagreed with them, were sound in their footing.

But with this latest wrinkle you seem to be either a) abandoning your previous position entirely (that government shouldn't waste money) b) hating on the project no matter what in a case of sour grapes, or c) finally coming to that point where your opposition to the ballpark is more important than (what i have seen as) your core fiscally conservative, limited government position.

Perhaps you care to explain if it's any of these, or if you if rhetorically speaking you've painted yourself in to a corner, and you'd like to get out.

Posted by: CJ at August 21, 2007 5:49 PM

Personally, I think we need to leave STM to his own ramblings and not provoke him any further. As best I can tell from briefly reading these postings he is mad at Opat simultaneously for

A)Low-balling LPII on the original offer, but then

B)Wasting too much of the taxpayers money on the final price.

You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: howeda7 at August 21, 2007 6:23 PM

^ see, my theme is apparent to some. Although I don't get the "have it both ways" comment.

CJ, the only reason the condemnation process and associated laws exist is because some governments have proven an inability to act "in good faith." There are numerous government acquisitions of private lands undertaken on an annual basis, that do not progress into "condemnation."

I believe my position against government gain at the expense of it citizens, whether it be imposing indiscriminate taxes for funding pet projects of special interests, or attempting to bully private citizens into taking less than fair compensation for the benefit of said project, has been consistent.

My guiding principle(s) are; less is more when it comes to government. It should not be in the business of facilitating stadiums and that Oputz has egregiously overstepped his position to single handedly orchestrate this oppression from brainstorming the plan that denied us of our right to vote to the gross abuse of power by attempting to discredit and shame for profit private citizens into accepting almost 1/2 of what he knew (based on the 2005 agreement) was fair market value for their property. In other words; my "position" has been consistently anti-Opat.

Are there no limits to what government action you'll endorse to gain only what you want?

Posted by: STM at August 21, 2007 6:27 PM

I am having trouble understanding how Opat won this battle. Especially when its not even over yet.

Before yesterday, LP II had an offer of $13m. Yesterday morning this was bumped up by $10 million to $23m. If they choose to appeal, they have a great witness; the only actual real estate appraiser that was on the commission, who believes the land to be worth at least $33m.

The kicker is that because Opat was so incompetant this will undoubtedly be appealed. His stubborn offer of $13m (CJ- there was only 1 goalpost) ensured not only that condemnation was the only option, but anything awarded over $19M HC would have to pick up the legal fees. This is already over $2m, and HC will be on the hook for all additional fees if it is appealed. Why wouldnt Hines appeal? Its a free lunch thanks to Opat's imaginary negotiation.

The scary part of it all is that there are people on here celebrating the fact that our government toed the line, held their ground and "pulled one over" on a group of private citizens.

Government is set up to protect the rights of the electorate, not to pressure them out of their assets - HC's initial strategy. And Tato, to compare the people being condemned to independent contractors voluntarily bidding on projects is just plain ridiculous, please stop with the analogies. One party has a choice, the other doesnt.

Posted by: Moonlight Graham at August 21, 2007 6:41 PM

STM is exactly correct and I stand with the earlier poster that said a jury could award a lot of money to the owners simply because it would be hard to find a jury not almost totally representative of those that had NO SAY in a referendum sticking it to Hennepin County's baseball two percenters.

Good luck with a jury trial; I know if I was on it even being a Hennepin County taxpayer I would vote for $50 million to the owners so nobody ever again would push a stadium on unwilling taxpayers.

Posted by: bart at August 21, 2007 6:46 PM

Let's move on everyone, heh? Trying to convince anti-stadium people of anything is a frustrating effort in futility, at best.

For me, the sky was a beautiful blue today, the birds were chirping, and stadium construction continued unabated. It was a very good day.

Posted by: Shane at August 21, 2007 7:40 PM

Shane has good days when the doped up professional sports players he adores and worships get a new place to play in for free.

Posted by: bot at August 21, 2007 8:16 PM

What? Another comment from an anonymous nobody who isn't even proud enough of his own opinion to stand behind it as himself?

Hmmmm ... I wonder if I should take it seriously. Nope.

Posted by: Shane at August 21, 2007 8:19 PM

For me, the sky was a beautiful blue today, the birds were chirping, and stadium construction continued unabated. It was a very good day.

So it's true. Ignorance is bliss.

Posted by: STM at August 21, 2007 8:38 PM

Well, STM, I know it is hard for you to believe, but I actually want a Twins stadium. I am aware you feel the deal is the height of suckiness, and my support of this plan does not mean that I support other deals of like suckiness. I am not completely ignorant, but can't blame you for thinking so.

Posted by: Shane at August 21, 2007 8:47 PM

I wish I could find a client like Optuz. Here we have buyer who doesn't even know the value of what he is buying, so he buys it anyways and then says he will pay whatever a third party says he should pay. Thus, HC is on the hook for at least $10MM more than what he has told us the property is worth, and this may get even more pricey between legal fees and a higher value when he appeals the loss he just had in court. Nobody can say that when you have to pay almost double what you said the land was worth, that you actually won. On second thought, a politician would try to spin this loss into a win. I hope he enjoys his free box at the new stadium. Maybe he will invite some of his kool-aid drinking buddies (naw), just him and his posse.

Posted by: jimmy Jack at August 21, 2007 10:15 PM

I came across this gem from Dan Kenney in reading about the land dispute appeal:

"He noted, however, that the project's infrastructure budget has already excluded a pedestrian bridge alongside Target Center that would have connected First Avenue to the ballpark's right-field plaza."


Now, I support the stadium, but this is a HUGE issue with me. If they knock out that pedestrian bridge, how are people going to get to the ballpark? The Twins can build the nicest ballpark in the league, but it's not going to be worth a darn unless people can get to it. This is a huge problem.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: The Rational Actor at August 23, 2007 6:57 PM

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