Don’t let it be said the Vikings are sore winners.
In a mostly confidential settlement filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, the team allowed Wells Fargo to keep elevated but not illuminated signs on the rooftops of two office buildings adjacent to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The agreement followed months of negotiations, dozens of legal filings and several hearings in front of U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank.
“We’re pleased that as two prominent Minnesota brands and community leaders we’ve reached a resolution that’s in the best interests of both parties,” said Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president, a sentiment echoed in a nearly identical statement from Wells Fargo.
It’s a resolution seemingly at odds with prior actions. The Vikings escalated the dispute when it took Wells Fargo to court late last year. The team accused Wells Fargo of attempting to photo-bomb the image of U.S. Bank stadium that would be broadcast around the world, especially during the Super Bowl in February 2018.
The team argued that Wells Fargo violated a two-year-old agreement about signage on the two 17-story office buildings.
In multiple documents and in the courtroom, the Vikings said Wells Fargo was allowed to have painted signs on the rooftops, but they couldn’t be elevated or illuminated.
The Vikings won outright in court. Earlier this summer, Frank ordered Wells Fargo to remove the signs. He found the bank had breached the contract with the Vikings that allowed signs to be 56-by-56 feet, but could be neither raised nor illuminated.
He also ordered Wells Fargo to pay the Vikings’ legal fees, which the team later said amounted to $655,000.
Under the legislation passed to build the stadium, the Vikings control an area surrounding the $1.1 billion building. Before Ryan Companies built the development that includes the Wells Fargo towers, the team had brokered a deal that allowed only flat signs on the rooftops.
In August 2014 over the objections of the team, Wells Fargo went ahead, spending $490,000 to construct signs that are 38 inches high and illuminated.
Throughout months of public legal maneuvering, the judge repeatedly asked why the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement out of court.
In a written order last summer, Frank wrote that both Wells Fargo and the Vikings partnered with government in redeveloping the eastern end of downtown.
“In light of these partnerships, each party proclaims its contributions and commitment to the community, yet neither seems to comprehend the possibility that spending vast time and resources on this litigation might disserve the public interest,” he wrote.