Sid Hartman: Pohlads step up to plate to help county save deal

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 10, 2007 - 8:45 PM

The big question among some downtown business owners is whether the Pohlad family, which has done everything possible to keep the Twins here, would sell the team if the plan to build the new stadium falls through.

In a visit with Carl Pohlad, I got the impression that he might not want to own the team any more if the ballpark deal falls through.

However, the Pohlad family is now seriously financially involved and is trying to make sure it does everything it can to make sure the ballpark project doesn't fail.

Talks between Hines Development, the ballpark site landowners, and Hennepin County are at a stalemate. From very good sources, who don't want to be quoted, I am told that the Pohlads are now dealing only with Hennepin County because of that impasse.

The good news is that the Twins and Hennepin County are in the process of talking about renegotiating their original deal in order to keep the project on time and on budget without sacrificing the outstanding parts of the ballpark.

The two parties hope to accomplish this without having to alter the legislation passed in 2006.

To save the ballpark, Hennepin County likely will begin acquiring the land through condemnation. This ensures the landowners will receive no more than the fair market value for the land. By using the quick-take provision, the county could gain access to the land shortly after starting condemnation to keep development on schedule.

Here is where the Pohlads come in.

If the price for land under condemnation came in much higher than the $13.25 million for which the county has budgeted, then the Pohlads would have to come up with the additional money.

Then you wonder: To get the ballpark deal done, would the Pohlads also have to help the county if the infrastructure connected with the ballpark runs over budget?

So in short, if the Pohlads don't go into their own pockets to save the ballpark, it won't happen. But it looks like they are determined to do so.

Defense needs to improve

Everett Withers, the Gophers' new defensive coordinator, has a great reputation for developing defenses in the NFL and in college. After only five days of practice, he admits that the Gophers defense "has a long way to go and, obviously, we've got to get faster.

"... But you know I'm proud of the guys' effort. They're practicing hard, they're working hard, they're eager to learn, so all we've got to do is coach them up and try to get them in the right spots and get them playing fast."

Withers is putting in a new defensive scheme.

"I thought the defense last year -- they didn't do a whole lot on defense, they played some base fronts and base coverages, we're just trying to improve on what they did last year," he said. "This was a good football team last year. What we've got to do is get them playing with a lot more confidence and playing faster and tackling and making plays."

Withers inherits a defense that blew a 38-7 lead against Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl, but he said he has been impressed with the players' efforts.

"This football team has a good work ethic, and what we've got to do is take that work ethic and build into a new scheme a new attitude and get them playing with some confidence," he said.

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