The deal for the Vikings' new stadium (a k a, the Taj Ma Zygi) includes $498 million in public money. That is the most ever for an NFL team. And it includes $150 million from the City of Minneapolis, which spends a great deal of time looking under sofa cushions for change to try to remain financially upright.
The committment to the Taj Ma Zygi caused the city and the Timberwolves to settle for a paltry upgrade of $97 million for the now-antiquated design of Target Center -- a building the city actually owns.
The deal for the Vikings stadium would not pass muster as a great move for Minneapolis because there will be a single Super Bowl played here in the future, or that a Final Four might some day return. This only way it works is if the plan of the city, Ryan Cos. and Wells Fargo for a grand project for the eastern part of downtown comes to fruition.
The $400 million deal is in place. A first step would be tearing down the Star Tribune building, despite the suggestion from some heritage lovers that the building on Portland Ave. has historical significance and should be preserved.
My favorite idea from these brainiacs was that perhaps the building could be turned into a brew pub. A four-floor, square block brew pub ... man, me and a lot of other converted alkies in the Twin Cities are going to have to resume our over-drinking to make that a viable alternative.
As it turns out, the real obstacle to getting final approval for this $400 million development isn't some pie-in-the-sky heritage group but the Vikings. The pigs at the public trough have no conscience when it comes to making a fuss ... and now they are trying to stop Wells Fargo from being able to put a prominent sign of its existence at the top of the new office towers.
The signs would require a change in the Minneapolis zoning code. The change would be a tradeoff for Wells Fargo putting $300 million into the towers and bringing an estimated 5,000 employees downtown, five days a week (minus holidays), 52 weeks a year.
"We are making a $300 million investment -- that's what's on the table here,'' said Peggy Gunn, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo. "And we think it's reasonable that some signs reflecting this investment be allowed.''
Any reasonable entity, especially the Minneapolis City Council, would have to agree. The council should approve the zoning change immediately ... IMMEDIATELY! IMMEDIATELY!, harumph, harumph.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority also must sign off on the term sheet of the deal for the Ryan Cos./ Wells Fargo development.
Les (Wants More) Bagley, the front man for the stadium demands of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, was at it again in Friday's Star Tribune, protesting that the Wells Fargo signage could limit the team's efforts to sell naming rights for the stadium. Rumors have it that U.S. Bank is a leading contender for naming rights.
"The way the stadium legislation is set up, our agreement with the stadium authority is that all decisions on the project have to be unanimous berween the ... Vikings and the stadium authority,'' Bagley said.
U.S. Bank or another financial institution might be less inclined to give the Vikings checks for $7, 8, maybe 10 million a year if Wells Fargo's presence nearby was prominent. I mean, what if there was an event at the Taj Ma Zygi large enough to attract a blimp flying over Minneapolis and, horrors!, the Wells Fargo signs came into view.
I have to say, if you don't despise the Vikings' conduct in this greatest-ever blackmail of Minnesotans for a stadium, you're not trying.
We're going to turn down two office towers, 5,000 private-sector employees, 400 apartments and a middle-of-the-city park that will put vitality into a lifeless part of downtown, so that Zygi can get a couple more million bucks per year to put a name on his stadium?
We're going to do this for a guy who eventually will sell in four or five years and go back to New Jersey having made a billion dollars or more on his investment?
We're going to do this for the guy who with one picture -- the evil grin throwing dirt in our faces -- said a billion words about his team's attitude about being a partner with the public in this new stadium?
Here's hoping the council allows Wells Fargo to put up a sign that would make that portion of downtown look like a couple of blocks of Glitter Gulch in Las Vegas.
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