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Star Tribune CEO: ‘No hurry’ to sell Vikings stadium land; would stay downtown

Michael Klingensmith sent his troops a memo laying out scenarios to stay in downtown should the stadium swallow the newspaper’s properties.

After the ink dried on the Minneapolis City Council’s Vikings stadium assent, Star Tribune CEO/publisher Michael Klingensmith sent his troops a memo praising their “extreme professionalism” and laying out scenarios to stay in downtown should the stadium swallow their Portland Avenue properties.

Strib workers obviously want to know where they’ll hang their fedoras, but regular Braublog readers have heard a lot of this before: Management doesn’t feel like it has to sell its headquarters land; if it does, the paper will stay in downtown Minneapolis, and at the moment one block is within the footprint of a planned plaza (even though larger dreamscapes have several other newspaper blocks falling to peripheral development).

Klingensmith’s “extreme professionalism” judgment will be a red flag to many; I’d suggest reading Ed Kohler and Nick Coleman for an extremely opposite view.

Editorial board shamelessness aside (by the way, check out another brazenly self-interested moment today), I think the Strib’s Eric Roper did a nice job down the stretch, unearthing the shocking news that deal included a clause that could hike the city of Minneapolis’s contribution by $215 million. News-wise, I think the Strib hyped the project because you kept clicking on the links, and I don’t think they were alone down the stretch focusing on “will-it-get-done” more than “should-it-get-done.” I think the absence of any critical staff columnist was groupthink that served readers poorly.

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Rest assured, I’ll be covering the Strib’s attempts to secure a chunk of what is tentatively a $26 million land acquisition fund.

Anyway, here’s Klingensmith’s take:

With Friday’s approval by the City Council bringing the stadium approval process to completion, I’d like to take this opportunity to commend our news organization for navigating tricky reportorial waters with extreme professionalism. We are always under scrutiny when we have to report a story that involves our own organization in any way. Our journalists have been objective and fair throughout, and that makes me extremely proud. Covering this story has also led to many late nights and extended closes and has required great digital dexterity. I would like to compliment the teamwork between news, production, digital and the whole organization that produced such a great result for our readers.

With this resolution of the stadium situation, you may now be wondering about the future of Star Tribune at 425 Portland Avenue. I wanted to provide an update about the situation as it relates to our business, to head off speculation.

Despite what you may have seen in the many conceptual drawings put forth, the current stadium plan includes only one block of Star Tribune property: the McClellan block at the northeast corner of Park Avenue and South 4th Street. With the new stadium being built on the Metrodome site, eventually that block will become part of the new stadium development.

Regarding the rest of our downtown property, it’s no secret we would be interested in selling, but we’re not in any hurry. Obviously, if we were to sell the block containing the 425 building we would have to relocate our offices. It’s our belief that there would be multiple occupancy options in or near the central business district that would improve the quality of our workspace compared to our current building.

So it’s business as usual for now. If and when there are significant developments to report, we will of course share that with you. Until then, please continue to focus on serving our readers and advertisers as always, and as best exemplified by our coverage of this story.

Mike Klingensmith
Publisher & CEO