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 3033 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
This is the last hope for so-called knot-hole views. I'm skeptical.
This little pathway snakes between the LRT tracks and the Environmental Services Building, emptying into the parking area surrounding the HERC. It could be for maintenance, but it looks more like it's for convenience.
Fenway has posts. Target Field does not. But...
Hubert's remains the only sports bar within site of the Dome after 28 years of its existence. It's a cautionary tale.
Looking back toward the doorway into the club
Detroit got this part right!
Larry DiVito, mowing
You can finally see how the plaza will meet the street on the north side of this emergency exit tower (which will be converted to a regular entrance/exit)
Also viewed from the B ramp, that's the upper deck in left field.
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.)
Ahh. Lunch in the admin building...
(Click to enlarge.)
Did you notice the flowers?
Here's a closer look at the bullpen area. It's hard to tell for sure, but I think there is still an opening to the concourse right above.
Tony Oliva, R. T. Rybak and Mike Opat
Section 237, Row 15 (top of the Trap)
Red is old Yankee Stadium. This diagram comes from FieldOfSchemes.com
We bumped into Jerry Bell (at right)!
The official ballpark development area
The former Ford manufacturing plant (now Ford Centre).