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Continued: A new dispute on ballpark land figures

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 21, 2007 - 1:59 AM

With a formal groundbreaking for the stadium scheduled for Aug. 30, the panel's award -- and even an appeal of it -- is not likely to stall the project. But the final figure will have a large bearing on how much money Hennepin County, whose ballpark infrastructure budget is capped at $90 million by the Legislature, has to spend on nearby roadways, sidewalks and utilities.

Legal fees to be covered

Opat acknowledged that the $23.8 million condemnation award also means the county would have to pay both sides' legal fees for the condemnation hearing, and he said the county had spent an estimated $1 million. Pogin said the landowners had estimated the legal fees, not including a November trial, at more than $2 million.

"Does the project take a hit? Certainly," said Opat, who said county officials were debating whether they would appeal the award.

Also, Opat again declined to disclose the details of a nonpublic agreement the county has made with the Twins to help with the costs of land acquisition and other infrastructure. He said the figure would be disclosed "when the land is finally settled and signed and delivered, and the last payment's made. That would be my guess."That's what we agreed to," he added.

Hennepin County is contributing much of the $522 million stadium's cost through a 0.15 percent countywide sales tax that continues to draw loud opposition and support from local taxpayers. The Twins are contributing $130 million, along with the amount in the nonpublic agreement.

Twins President David St. Peter declined Monday to comment on the condemnation award. "The county is taking the lead," he said. "I'm not really going to go there. That really hasn't been our focus. We've been focused on building a ballpark."

At a Friday meeting of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, which will own the stadium, officials ticked off the progress of the construction. A report filed with the authority showed that $25.9 million in contracts had been awarded and that pile-driving on the site was underway and on schedule.

"The project is going forward, no matter what," said Steve Cramer, the Ballpark Authority's chairman. "There will be a project, but the nature of it, the quality of it, the impact of it could be influenced dramatically by [the condemnation] number."

Mike Kaszuba • 612-673-4388

Mike Kaszuba • mkaszuba@startribune.com

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