Sid Hartman: Pohlad willing to help with stadium problem

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2007 - 9:17 PM

As reported here earlier this week, the Twins are heavily involved in trying to get the price for the stadium land worked out, since it is apparent that Hennepin County and the Hines Interests -- which is representing the owners of the land behind Target Center -- are at a complete impasse.

In order to proceed with the condemnation of the land, a source has said that the family of owner Carl Pohlad has agreed to make an undisclosed financial commitment to the project, in addition to the previous sum of $130 million the team agreed to pay when the deal passed last year, when it appeared everything was set to build a new ballpark.

The building of the stadium could start once the groups agree to go the condemnation route, even though a price for the land might not be known for as long as a year.

No doubt the project could be dead if the Pohlads don't write a check for the negotiated difference in what the county will pay for the land and what the owners want. And to save the stadium, the Pohlads are ready do that.

There has been talk of other sites, but that won't work because of all the environmental work and other things that would need to be done raising the price of a stadium to a point beyond what the sides are willing to pay. Then you also have the problem of Hennepin County's inability to deliver on the infrastructure commitment it made when the 2006 Legislature met.

So the Pohlads have been active in trying to get the problem solved.

In the past few days, the Twins have performed their own due diligence to estimate a reasonable price. They also had private meetings with the land owners, their representatives and Hines, although without much progress.

The Twins and the Pohlad representatives have also participated in numerous meetings with county representatives to understand their needs and determine how the Twins could help break the stalemate, financially or otherwise.

The Twins are anxious to get all of the problems solved. They want to unveil the ballpark design, something that has been delayed. No doubt it will be to the financial benefit of the Pohlads and improve the value of the team once the new ballpark is built. But they have already agreed to contribute $130 million to the project.

There is plenty of blame to pass around to all those involved who didn't have the common sense to have this land tied up before the Legislature designated the site for the stadium.

You have to credit the Pohlads for trying to solve the problem.

Big group at Notre Dame

Even owner Zygi Wilf will be a member of a Vikings group -- also including General Manager Rick Spielman, coach Brad Childress and several assistants and scouts -- that will travel to South Bend, Ind., and join the close to 100 coaches, scouts and other NFL executives to watch the workout of Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn.

There is no doubt that the Vikings are very interested in considering Quinn for their first pick, No. 7 overall, if he is available.

"Well, you know he's played in a high-profile, bright-light program like Notre Dame and you know he's had [coach Charlie Weis'] training for the last couple years," Childress said.

Weis is the former Patriots offensive coordinator who played a big role in the development of Tom Brady.

Childress said he knows Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz will be among the many coaches in attendance to watch Quinn. The Buccaneers, who draft fourth, might have removed themselves from contention after signing Jeff Garcia and trading for Jake Plummer on Saturday, but the Lions, who draft second, might be more interested now that they secured tackle George Foster in a trade with the Broncos and might not need to draft highly rated Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas. And Childress said the Dolphins, behind the Vikings at No. 9, are surely also looking at Quinn.

Wilf not only will make the trip to Notre Dame, but he was also at the recent NFL combine in Indianapolis, and Childress is appreciative. "I know he loves it," he said. "... I'd rather have a passionate guy than a guy that was disinterested."

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