A dispute over rooftop signs that threatened to derail a $400 million development next to the new Vikings stadium was resolved Saturday when the football team agreed to the placement of giant business logos atop two planned office towers.
Ending weeks of sometimes edgy discussions, the Vikings withdrew their opposition to plans by Wells Fargo to place two 56-foot-square signs that would prominently feature the company logo on the two towers. The bank is expected to also own the buildings.
The Vikings had fiercely opposed the signs, saying the bright logos, which would be visible during televised aerial shots of the stadium, could undercut efforts to sell naming rights on the $1 billion, multipurpose venue, which will replace the Metrodome.
“We wanted to get this resolved and wanted to move this project forward,” Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said Saturday. “We’re not going to object to limited signage on the roof in order to get on with the project.”
In order for the rooftop signs to go up, the project developer, Ryan Cos., needs a change in the Minneapolis city ordinance prohibiting such signs, an issue that is expected to be addressed by the city planning commission and the city council in future meetings.
‘A giant step’
“For Wells Fargo, this agreement is really a giant step forward on our path for this project,” said Peggy Gunn, a company spokeswoman. “But the really important step is the City Council action this week.”
The development, which includes plans for apartments, retail shops, a parking ramp and a park, would be the largest Minneapolis office development in more than two decades — 1.1 million square feet. It would be built on land now owned by the Star Tribune on the east end of downtown.
Gunn said last week following a City Hall meeting on the development that given Wells Fargo’s sizable investment in the towers, “we think it’s reasonable that some signs reflecting this investment be allowed.”
At the time, she said that the company had a contingency allowing it to withdraw from the project. “It’s an important issue for Wells Fargo that has to be resolved before they’ll make a financial commitment to moving forward,” said Ryan Cos. vice president Rick Collins.
Bagley said Saturday that the Vikings are “very excited by the Ryan proposal and what it brings.’’
“We took the high road and got this done,’’ he said. “It was an open issue and we were able to close it out and move forward.”
The Vikings have had “multiple conversations” with companies about stadium naming rights, but as of Saturday, “nothing is imminent,” Bagley added.
“There’s 16 Fortune 500 companies in Minnesota and we know that one of them will have their name on it,” Bagley said.
“Now that we know where the signage will be located,” he added,” we can more actively discuss naming opportunities with potential corporate partners.”
The tentative pact between the Vikings and Wells Fargo comes just days after the team and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing stadium construction, broke ground on the 1.7 million-square-foot venue.
The stadium is scheduled to open in time for the 2016 NFL season.