Minneapolis pols fiddle while their stadiums burn
By Sid Hartman, Star Tribune
It's amazing to me that, according to some of the Hennepin County commissioners, Mayor R.T. Rybak, the city council and nobody else of any authority in Minneapolis has stepped in to try to solve the problem of the price of the land for the site of the future Twins ballpark.
Why won't the Hennepin County Commissioners who are saying this go on the record?
And it appears the chances of this logjam being settled are shrinking day by day, with a possibility that the stadium won't be built. The 100 or so owners of the land behind Target Center are now riding the coattails of Hines Interests, the Texas company that manages the land.
This is the situation the county and Twins find themselves in, and the city isn't doing anything to help, even though Minneapolis would be one of the biggest beneficiaries, with its new entertainment tax potentially bringing in $3 million per year.
Yes, as usual, the city is doing nothing to help solve the problem.
The word we are hearing is that the sides in the land squabble are not talking, thus losing valuable time and risking the project's feasibility.
And yes, the Hennepin County commissioners who voted for the ballpark and their lawyers are not without guilt in this dilemma. It appears they entered into a deal that they can't deliver on.
As time marches on, the price of building this ballpark will increase to a point where it can't be built.
Target Center too
Then you have another situation in which the great leadership of Minneapolis is involved.
Owner Glen Taylor and the Timberwolves were losing $250,000 a month in trying to book shows at Target Center when Taylor decided to give the worry back to the city.
While both Target Center and Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul are struggling financially because of the competition for shows between the two arenas, the Minneapolis delegation in the Legislature is doing nothing to help the Target Center problem.
I wonder if those legislators are going to stand by and watch Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, pass legislation that will bail out St. Paul's debt on Xcel Energy Center.
Cohen's claim is that this should be done because there was some forgiveness given for $87 million in debt on the Minneapolis Convention Center in 1998. But it's my understanding that the situations aren't at all equal.
Well, based on past performances, I look for the Minneapolis delegation in the Legislature to sit and watch as Cohen and the more aggressive St. Paul politicians solve Xcel's financial problems, while the nonaggressive Minneapolis group -- some of whom voted against passing the new Twins ballpark plan -- do nothing for the problems at Target Center.
Why should RT Rybak, who is thinking of running for US Senate get any more associated with this circus than he already is?
Sid's column reminded me to write my legislators asking them to vote no on the Excel Center bill.
Mike Kazuba gives an update on the Keystone Kops manipulations.
"It would be highly unlikely that the 2010 opening date could be met," said Ed Hunter, the authority's ballpark project manager. "Just from a practical, technical aspect, you're starting over ... new [environmental impact statement], new site development surveys, soil borings. The list goes on and on."
Hunter and Daniel Mehls, an executive with M.A. Mortenson Co., the construction manager the Twins hired, told the authority's five members that costs will likely rise because of the land sale dispute. Mehls said a set of bids related to site preparation and utility relocation, which were to be advertised on Feb. 21 to begin work in March, will cost more.
February 21 is a few days off.
From Shane Nakeru's comments:
No coincidence. HC maybe could've had it for around 20M had "Oputz" been smart enough to address that issue first. He wasn't. That alone should be worth another 20M. Of course, watching him twist in the wind and subsequently get flushed down the drain is just a bonus that you can't put a price on.
Posted by: Stadiumshill at February 16, 2007 03:31 PM
And here's the best comment:
It is not about LPII's unwillingness to counteroffer the county's proposal. It is about these issues:
1] Both the county and the landowners land values will come out in court. This will be public knowledge.
2] If the county is so sure that their offer is fair, then why are they not proceeding with the condemnation process and start building the stadium? I think the county's worst nightmare is that the condemnation process proceeds and the court awards the landowners the fair market value of the land which will be more than they have offered and have budgeted. You have to wonder why the county is not moving forward if they think they are in the right. Nothing is stopping them. Could it be they are not confident with their number and are trying to deflect the attention.
Contact your county officials and ask them why they have gotten this far along including spending our money without an agreement in place for the land. Let the double-talk begin.