February 18, 2007 10:25 PM
UPDATE - This article was written in an era when very little was known about the discussions Land Partners II had had with the city and the county. That's a nice way of saying that when I wrote this, I was an idiot.
Condemnation proceedings forced silence on some parties, so there was much that could not be revealed or discussed at all. And one side had exclusive access to the media mouthpieces, which affected how the whole thing was framed, and how people like me perceived it. There were -- how shall I put this? -- disgraceful shenanigans in progress which are obvious in retrospect.
I think that I've learned my lesson. And though I'm leaving the text of this post as it was originally, please be aware that what I THOUGHT was going on was very misguided. The real story is in my book. -- Rick, July 2014
The land ownership conflict has now gone on much longer than anyone (including me) anticipated. I've thought all along that this is just hardball negotiating. But now I'm beginning to think otherwise.
Though I don't really have any inside information, reading between the lines is pretty easy. The landowners believe they have the county and the team over a barrel. They believe that the only way the park will get built is on their land. They believe that no one has the fortitude to go back to the legislature so soon. They also believe that, since the county has a cap on how much it can pay for the land (which it does), the Pohlad family should step up and write a check for the difference (which they could, but most certainly will not). The team is, after all, on the hook for all cost overruns.
Who Owns What (Click for larger version. Source: Ballpark Authority)
The whole issue reveals what may be a fatal flaw in the legislation. I've written before about some weird clauses in that bill, and have always suspected that there was a time bomb ticking inside there somewhere. Now we know what it is.
The bill ties the county's hands, and explicitly gives the landowners everything they could have dreamed of. There's pressure to use the site (it's the only one allowed by the bill, save for the garbage burner site), there's pressure to get it done in a hurry, there's the clause putting the team on the hook for the added expense. Land Partners II could have written this bill.
The budget given to the county was probably based on a previous 2005 sale agreement which had expired. That agreement had specified a price roughly in the range of what the county now has to spend. My guess is that the number was tweaked at the Legislature for inflation, but assumed the landowners had named their price and would stick to it. That also assumed that Land Partners II would negotiate in good faith.
Setting aside all of the rhetoric in the paper (Sid's bluster isn't really helping), it's clear that the landowners are no longer negotiating in good faith. In fact, if this house of cards falls, Land Owners II will go down in history as the villain -- not the county, or the Ballpark Authority, or the city, or the Legislature, or the governor, or even the Pohlads.
I think the team has approached this site in good faith, as has the county. But I think the landowners have not. There are apparently 100 investors in this partnership, and it's time for the light of day to shine on these people. I'm sure that's the last thing they want, but it may come to that.
What's most insane about this is that they own a whole bunch of land around there which will become instantly more valuable because it sits so close to the new park (see the map above). They will make out like bandits even if the county is able to enforce the currently assessed price through eminent domain. The level of greed on display here is staggering.
People have been asking me if I think this issue will scuttle the whole project. I'm inclined to say that it won't, primarily because there is a fine solution available if only cooler heads would prevail. If you know someone who has ownership in this partnership, now's the time to give them a call. Some of the names are very well known. That type of pressure could be useful.
Beyond that, I suspect the county has some maneuvers available which can expedite the condemnation and let the project get started with only a six or nine month delay. That's totally bearable. Even a whole year delay wouldn't be all bad (though the Twins will have to get another extension on Mauer's contract).
One final note: I've always thought that the Rapid Park site would be a great place for a ballpark. But it's hardly the only place available, and it might not even be the very best place. Some of the limitations of the site have become visible now that design and engineering work has actually begun. Without any effort, I can think of half a dozen other sites which would be equally as good -- or better. The county may well have the ability to get a technical change to the law passed which changes the site. Certainly, some legislators would try to block it, but it might not be as hard as you think. For one thing, the tax is already in place, and nothing about the funding mechanism would have to change. That's always been the most controversial aspect of the whole project (lack of roof notwithstanding).
In other words, I do not believe it is a foregone conclusion that the park will go on the Rapid Park site regardless of cost. If that's what Land Partners II is banking on, they are making a huge mistake. It's time for them to negotiate in good faith and get this mess behind us.
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This page was last modified on July 12, 2014.
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
This view clearly shows the curve in the left field stands and the relationship of the first row with the playing field (no overhang to speak of in left).
Inexplicable bright yellow baseball amid the trees.
The completed promenade
In addition to the Pro Shop facade, you can see more gravel being laid before the final plaza surface is poured.
Yes, TC is smiling.
Target HQ main entrance. Ballpark resemblance? (Inset.)
The original Candlestick Park
Looking toward the Farmer's Market site from the balcony of the 573 Club at TF
Wow! Looking good.
The Pohlads were loose. A-Rod looked, um, you decide.
Secret entrance exposed!
One of the sweetest sights of the day -- the Dome, and only through passing bus windows.
The service entrance area in left-center, now with bench seating
Serious home dugout work in progress.
You write the caption...
Wrigley Field. Paradise? Not from these seats.
Evidence of a food court behind the seating above the batter's eye
If you want, you can ask those folks how the game is going -- and even get a little bit of info from the big screen (Grandstand)
Here's a first view of the surprisingly spacious walkway on Fifth between the ballpark and the LRT platform.
The HERC side, viewed from Fifth Street.
More of a bird's-eye view of the same area.
Better them than me
Scoreboard in profile against the skyline
This is the outside portion of the Metropolitan Club.
This guy at the Puckett atrium chef stand caught me taking the picture and said I should stop back later because he was "just getting started." I still don't know what he meant.
This looks like a Twins Pub, but is actually the scoreboard operations.
The right field overhang is in place, and the first base stands are starting to go in.
Signature elements. (And they wonder why we think the real trees look so small...)
The circulation ramp on Fifth Street is shaping up very quickly.
At left, across the tracks by that pile of dirt is where the Northstar commuter train platform will be built, and where Twins fans will apparently NOT be able to get a train after night games. (For reference, that's the Fifth Street bridge, with the ballpark site just beyond it. The east corner of Ford Centre is just visible at the right edge of the picture.)
BPM - Ballpark Magic
BRT - Bus Rapid Transit
DSP - Dave St. Peter
FSE - Full Season Equivalent
FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)
HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)
HPB - Home Plate Box
HRP - Home Run Porch
LC - Legends Club
LRT - Light Rail Transit
MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)
MOA - Mall of America
MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)
NYS - New Yankee Stadium
SRO - Standing Room Only
STH - Season Ticket Holder
TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium
TF - Target Field
Selected Bibliography - Analysis
First Edition (1992)
Second Edition (2006)
Selected Bibliography - Surveys
Second Edition (1987)
Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000, large coffee table)
Original edition (2000, round)
Revised edition (2006, round)
(2001, medium coffee table)
(2002, small coffee table)
(2003, medium coffee table)
(2004, very large coffee table)
(2006, very large coffee table)
Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)
Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
Book and six ballpark miniatures