Thinking about this land deal gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. But I've spent some time over the last couple of days rereading the media coverage, as well as a large amount of discussion on other sites (special thanks to Shane and all the contributors over at The Greet Machine), and I've come away feeling like I missed something very important in my previous analysis.
Mike Opat (Source: Hennepin County)
Deals are made between people. People who like one another are generally able to negotiate more successfully than people who do not. But even parties who do not like one another can make deals work if they at least talk to one another.
Rich Pogin (left) and Bruce Lambrecht (Source: Skyway News)
Over and over I've gotten the feeling that the Hennepin County team simply thought they didn't have to talk to Land Partners II. I think they assumed that this was already a done deal because LPII had been so deeply involved in getting the legislation passed.
What's more, I think they assumed that all they had to do was make an offer which looked like it was descended from the now-expired 2004 deal with the city and everything would be just fine. It would make sense that those were the instructions given (spoken or unspoken) to their appraiser. Without knowing all the gory details, it looks like the offer they made fits that description -- lowballed a little bit from that, of course, but just so there would be room for conversation.
But anyone who has ever been either a buyer or a seller in real estate -- or anything major, for that matter -- knows that silence is almost the worst thing you can do to a deal. In silence, parties imagine things and get crazy ideas. Their fears tend to get the better of them, and they start to suspect that either A) the deal is off, or B) they're about to get screwed.
Silence ices trust, and without trust no deal can happen.
So it must be acknowledged that Opat et. al. really bungled this thing by waiting almost eight months to start talking about the land. I know that they claim they needed to jump through all the hoops first, but that's a little bit ridiculous. Governments are very scary entities to deal with, and I bet that a few casual phone calls between Mike and Bruce might have smoothed things over and prevented this whole mess.
Of course, we don't know whether anything like that happened, but the lack of communication seems to be at the root of all the comments from LPII and their apologists.
In those silent eight months, LPII had time to fret and get all sorts of wild ideas about the value of the land. They had time to devise a Strategy, which they needed because they began to fear that they were gonna get robbed. In fact, if the only thing you heard about your land was that the county had started the process of condemning it, you might freak out a little bit too.
Don't get me wrong. I still think LPII has acted poorly. But I think I'm starting to understand why.
Remember, LPII can't be faulted for wanting to maximize their profits. That's why people buy land -- to sell it at a profit. But their apparent refusal to negotiate now, after putting so much effort into the project up front, is inexcusable. Whether they intended it or not -- and whether it's true or not -- they look like they are using the details of the deal they helped create to bludgeon the public for way more money than anyone believed would have to be paid.
Jerry Bell (Source: MPR)
In fact, let's take this opportunity to summarize what we, the humble public, know about this whole thing, and see if it matches that perception:
1. The county has made an offer (based on an appraised value).
2. LPII has made no counter-offer (and offered no appraised value).
3. The county has started condemnation procedures.
4. LPII will accept the condemnation without a fight.
5. The county fears that an arbitrated price would be too high.
6. LPII would gladly accept an arbitrated price.
7. The county must use the Rapid Park site or return to the Legislature.
8. LPII would be happy to develop the land themselves without a stadium.
Looks like a match to me. LPII is clearly in the driver's seat, and they are using that position for everything it's worth. Can't say I blame them. But if it kills the stadium, they may go down in Minnesota sports history with the likes of Chuck Knoblauch and Norm Greene...
Sid reports today that Jerry Bell is humming Kum Ba Yah in everyone's ears. I can't think of a better person to get involved. It helps, of course, that his boss could settle the whole thing with his checkbook.
Call for New Ballpark Sites
Rapid Park is fading from view. So, where do you think the park should go?
Some ground rules:
1. It must be in Hennepin County. (Sorry, St. Paul folks. The Legislature will never change the funding mechanism so much that Ramsey County could be included... Consult the map at right for the eligible area.)
2. It must be 10-15 acres.
3. It need not be vacant land, but it should have a willing seller.
4. Ownership by the city, state, or county is a real plus right now.
5. Skyline views are completely optional, but infrastructure is not. It must be near major freeways and/or mass transit, and have plenty of parking available.
6. Extra points if you can come up with one that nobody's mentioned yet.
I have a few already on my napkin:
1. Garbage Burner
2. Minneapolis Impound Lot
3. Brookdale (or surrounding area)
4. Parade Stadium
5. Lowry Ave and the Mississippi River
6. Mall of America swap land (my all-time favorite!)
...plus a few I'm not quite ready to say.
Add yours to the comments below, and I'll look at them all in the coming days -- unless, of course, there's a miracle in the North Loop.
"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 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Which way to the skyway? Really??
Steps going up at Gate 29/Carew
Remember the pitch heard throughout Twins Territory? What an amazing day that was, April 12, 2010. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
Can you name that field? (Braemer Park, Edina)
The splendid view from the roof of the Minikahda building. (Click to enlarge greatly.)
The entrance at Gate 3.
Home plate mount from Met Stadium (Source: LP, courtesy Clyde Doepner)
Gate 34 Puckett
First, an overview. The base of the plaza here will meet the base of Sixth Street at Second Avenue.
In March, we were still only imagining baseball through those windows.
Desolate. Dirty. Mysterious. Expensive. Unlikely.
Saturday afternoon, KMSP-HD 720P
Back of scoreboard; facade in context.
Compare this picture, from the open house in March, with the one above and you'll see that some furniture reconfiguration has taken place.
This is the plaza as viewed from the A ramp.
This is the LRT bridge under construction as viewed from the east looking west. The ballpark facade would be at the left in this photo.
Rooftop scaffolding, for the wind veil installation?
Detail of the Puckett wall hanging
Name that ballpark
Viewed from the A ramp.
Artist at work
The limestone theme is apparently carried to the area behind home plate. This will look great -- and distinctive -- on TV. But watch out for those foul balls!
Seat logos in place
Look beyond the gigantic hand (a hounds tooth jacket? really?) and you'll get a glimpse of the main grandstand configuration. The two (or is it three?) levels of suites are visible, as is the design of the so-called "split upper deck," and the extensive use of limestone for decorative accents. Let's hope these little touches don't get cut as costs increase, because they make a nice tie-in from the outside of the park to the inside. Of most interest to me is the way that the very best seats are physically separated from all the rest of the seats by that limestone. There will be virtually no way to sneak into these seats. On one level, that's a somewhat sad design feature...
Now from the inside looking at the same area.
Path of quick escape.
You won't see much sky from these seats, but you'll always be warm
Target Plaza looking toward the grandstand
Loading docks to the right, VIP entrances to the left.
Limestone will cover this pretty soon, but for now you can see where the escalator is.