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Did Star Tribune land sneak into the new Vikings stadium deal?

Vikings stadium and Star Tribune land

So does a Vikings stadium plan swallow Star Tribune blocks after all?

Two weeks ago, I noticed at least one Star Tribune block in a graphic the newspaper prepared. That’s a big deal because the paper — which has editorialized loudly and often for the stadium — stands to profit from a big story it’s covering.

At the time, both a city of Minneapolis negotiator and Strib CEO Michael Klingensmith said they were not aware of that block being in the new plan.

But Thursday, the team released an image (above) that looks almost identical to the newspaper’s. The Strib block — labeled “Open Space Gameday Tailgating” — looks landscaped and leveled. (There’s now a building on the block, which Hennepin County estimates has a $3.3 million market value.)

Strib spokesman Steve Yaeger says, “I can’t really give you an informed response in real-time. Give us a little time to absorb and assess the information.”

Says Klingensmith, who is in New York today, “I can confirm that our land was not in the deal when we last spoke, but things change and as you know, this has been a moving target all along.”

It’s possible the dreamscape merely hopes for the Strib land, rather than requiring it. (And, of course, the latest plan could end up on the scrap heap like all the others.) 

[Update: Politics in Minnesota’s Steve Perry tweets that one Strib block is part of the deal. Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chairman Ted Mondale said on 1500ESPN’s “Reusse & Mackey” that only the single Strib block is in.]

Still, there are a few of other details worth noting:

The drawing envisions a “linear urban plaza” on 5th Street, which would go right past the Star Tribune’s headquarters at 425 Portland. If you look at that block, there’s no building there! By my count, the plan redraws five Strib blocks between 3rd and 5th streets, and 5th and Chicago avenues, though four of those blocks are outside the red dashes signifying the stadium-site footprint.

(Two blocks are labeled “future development opportunities” — likely for the Strib and not for the stadium deal.)

Also, the Strib graphic two weeks ago drew in the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s building at 6th and Chicago (kitty-corner from Hubert’s). I noted this would make for a fun land negotiation, since Hennepin County board chair Mike Opat isn’t fond of the Dome site. But the drawing actually omits that Hennepin County building. However, the entire block is county-owned.

Finally, the plan would absorb a couple of partial-blocks that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf bought, just above the Dome site labeled “mixed-use parking ramp.” Not sure if those are counted toward the Vikings’ contribution, or if taxpayers will be buying them from him.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Matthew Steele on 03/01/2012 - 11:21 am.

    So let me get this straight: The plan is to replace possibly multiple blocks of existing productive uses with surface parking lot “open space plazas” so people can tailgate 8 or 10 Sundays a year? And I thought the *dome* was bad for the neighborhood…

  2. Submitted by Jeff Michaels on 03/01/2012 - 04:05 pm.

    Stadium coverage

    It is revealing to see how hypocritical Star-Tribune reporters are in making sure that readers are always aware of how their newspaper ownership might benefit financially from the sale of land related to a new stadium. It is equally revealing to see how the same union members always avoid mention of a similar conflict of interest when writing articles related to labor issues such as right to work or collective bargaining.

    I keep hope alive that some day I will read a labor related Star Tribune article telling me the reporter is a member of a labor union.

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