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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    A damper on Vikings stadium plan in Blaine

    [size=18px]A damper on Vikings stadium plan[/size]

    Legislative approval may be the least of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf's concerns in getting a new stadium built in Blaine. Politics, landowners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are obstacles.

    Paul Levy, Star Tribune
    Last update: July 17, 2006 – 11:08 PM


    In his quest to build a new Vikings stadium and $1.67 billion Northern Lights retail complex in Blaine, Zygi Wilf may have to tackle an unlikely opponent: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    Much of the 740 acres that Wilf wants has been designated as wetlands by the corps, which has refused to approve much of the land for development.

    "What the Army Corps of Engineers has done is absolutely appalling," said Margaret Langfeld, chairwoman of the Anoka County Board. "The city of Blaine and the Rice Creek Watershed District have negotiated this and come up with solutions that have pleased even the most dedicated conservationists. But the Army Corps of Engineers doesn't want the city of Blaine or Rice Creek making decisions."

    A manager with the corps said it has agreed with the city of Blaine to conduct a joint state and federal environmental review of the area and is waiting for Blaine to let the corps know when it's ready to begin. Tamara Cameron, regulatory branch lead project manager of the corps' St. Paul District, said: "We know people aren't happy with the corps." She added that "poor communications" on the corps' part has strained relations between the corps and Anoka County.

    "But why has it come to this?" asked Blaine Mayor Tom Ryan. "We've spent 16 to 18 years getting the culverts right. And every time we have the water flow and level to where it should be, the Corps of Engineers says, 'Wait a minute, boys,' and completely changes the rules."

    Nearly 20 years of lawsuits and bitter feelings pour through the wetlands proposed as the foundation for the retail, entertainment and sports complex, which would include a 68,500-seat Vikings stadium with a retractable roof along Interstate Hwy. 35W.

    The football stadium was one of three proposed facilities floated at the Legislature this year. Legislators approved two of them -- a downtown Minneapolis ballpark for the Twins and a campus football stadium for the University of Minnesota -- and told the Vikings to try again next year.

    Blaine landowners -- some of whom own property sought by Wilf -- have sued the Army Corps of Engineers, various watershed districts, the city of Blaine, Anoka County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation over disputes that range from measurements of land elevation to concerns over the placement of a roadside culvert, said Steve Hobbs, administrator of the Rice Creek Watershed District.

    At issue is the water level and how it is controlled, said Tim Fell, project manager for the Corps of Engineers.

    Areas saturated for a long enough time to support wetland plants are considered wetlands by the Corps of Engineers and the Rice Creek Watershed District, Fell said. Typically, land that has water within 12 inches of its surface is considered a wetland, Fell said.

    But county officials and some land owners negotiating with Wilf say the state approved a plan to regulate the water level two years ago.

    "Everything is ready to go except an Army Corps of Engineers permit," said Bart Rehbein, who owns property Wilf wants. "The Corps of Engineers is stalling. They flex their muscles, and everyone else pays a price."

    Said John Trost, who spent more than a decade in legal battles with the corps and owns 40 acres of land sought by Wilf: "The Army Corps of Engineers found out about this high-profile project on this property and had to take over everything. So nothing gets done. The Army Corps of Engineers is the problem."

    Political change?

    Meanwhile, Wilf said he wants to schedule a meeting in Blaine this month, said County Commissioner Dan Erhart. Wilf has pledged $1 billion toward the Northern Lights project, but needs to buy property from all 16 land owners to bring his plan to fruition. He had contingency deals with eight of the owners in the spring.

    Wilf could not be reached for comment, and it is not known how many of those deals remain valid. Some land owners, such as Joe Preiner, who owns a central piece of property at Lexington and 109th Avenues, say they are eager to deal with Wilf.

    Other owners may play hardball. One couple agreed to sell their 136 acres to Wilf for $15 million and then raised their price to $20 million.

    Politics could also stop the stadium from becoming a reality. The county, as has Wilf, has pledged $280 million toward a Vikings stadium. Langfeld, a staunch stadium supporter, is retiring. Four of the seven county commissioners are up for election this fall. Rep. Andy Westerberg, who sponsored the bill for a Vikings stadium in the House, is not running for reelection to the Legislature -- although he is running for county commissioner.

    "If there's a change in elected officials, the county portion could be gone," said Erhart, a champion of the stadium.

    Still, Erhart said: "We're optimistic. I've had two meetings with the governor in the last couple weeks, and he asked what Zygi intends to do. I talked to Zygi on July 4th.

    "We're being proactive. We're not just sitting around and talking. I believe before July is out, we'll have our course of action."

    Paul Levy • 612-673-4419

    A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
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    Re: A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    I live within 200 miles from the cities and I see 3 or 4 games a year.

    I can't believe it has gotten to this for me to say this...hurts.

    I wouldn't blame Wilf if he tooks his Vikings and said screw you Minnesota.

    I said I would never follow them if they left Minnesota... but if Wilf is forced out I will follow them where ever they go.

    BUILD THE F***ING STADIUM DAMIT

  3. #3
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    Re: A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    This just once again shows that it is not going to be built until 2012, or a little after. The experience of the Twins is very instructive. This is nothing to get excited about unless you enjoy riding a roller coaster.

  4. #4
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    Re: A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    "jdvike" wrote:
    I live within 200 miles from the cities and I see 3 or 4 games a year.

    I can't believe it has gotten to this for me to say this...hurts.

    I wouldn't blame Wilf if he tooks his Vikings and said screw you Minnesota.

    I said I would never follow them if they left Minnesota... but if Wilf is forced out I will follow them where ever they go.

    BUILD THE F***ING STADIUM DAMIT
    I would absolutely blame him because he said he wouldn't do it. The problem with the Metrodome, in the short-term, isn't the facility - it's the lease. The Vikings get next-to-nothing from any extras and generate the lowest revenue of ANY NFL team from their stadium deal.

    Christ - the guy's barely been the owner for a year and got the Vikings closer to getting a new stadium than ever before and you're already kissing them goodbye!

    Zygi made his money building strip malls in the wilds of New Jersey. He knows how to deal with the Corps of Engineers, greedy land-owners, local politicos and the mob. I'm not worried one bit about this getting done eventually.

    Besides - the Vikings lease (as crappy as it is) holds them to the Metrodome through 2011. He couldn't move the team even if he wanted to move - which has said repeatedly isn't an option.

    =Z=

    Thanks to Josdin for the awesome sig!

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    Re: A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    "AWZeus" wrote:
    Christ - the guy's barely been the owner for a year and got the Vikings closer to getting a new stadium than ever before and you're already kissing them goodbye!

    Zygi made his money building strip malls in the wilds of New Jersey. He knows how to deal with the Corps of Engineers, greedy land-owners, local politicos and the mob. I'm not worried one bit about this getting done eventually.
    Took the words right out of my mouth! Skol! ccasion5:
    Zeus wrote:
    When are you going to realize that picking out the 20 bad throws this year and ignoring the 300 good ones does not make your point?

    =Z=

  6. #6
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    Re: A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    "NodakPaul" wrote:
    "AWZeus" wrote:
    Christ - the guy's barely been the owner for a year and got the Vikings closer to getting a new stadium than ever before and you're already kissing them goodbye!

    Zygi made his money building strip malls in the wilds of New Jersey. He knows how to deal with the Corps of Engineers, greedy land-owners, local politicos and the mob. I'm not worried one bit about this getting done eventually.
    Took the words right out of my mouth! Skol! ccasion5:
    Cheers!

    =Z=

    Thanks to Josdin for the awesome sig!

  7. #7
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    Re: A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    So for 17 paragraphs Paul Levy talks about how the stadium deal will not get done. Then his last two paragraphs read as follows:

    Still, Erhart said: "We're optimistic. I've had two meetings with the governor in the last couple weeks, and he asked what Zygi intends to do. I talked to Zygi on July 4th.

    "We're being proactive. We're not just sitting around and talking. I believe before July is out, we'll have our course of action."
    Typical article that is trying to drive another wedge into the deal because the Tribune has a financial interest in the Metrodome.
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

    When you require nothing, you get nothing; when you expect nothing, you will find nothing; when you embrace nothing, all you will have is nothing.

  8. #8
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    Re: A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    I haven't kissed them goodbye....I merely stated that if he does go,I'll follow.

    The Brown and the Colts leases weren't up and how did that go?...oh yeah they moved out in the dark of the night.

    So if Wilf wants out of this lease he will get out....he could even buy out the lease.

    I have had this discussion before on both sides...Nobody wants them to stay more than myself.

    The club as it is now with the dome, and its lease, does not generate enough income to stay competitive.....is this a B.S. story?....I can't say for sure, and neither can you, as long as we can't see the numbers in black and white and to hear the big wigs tell the story ....RED.

    I'm not wishing them gone I just have faced the facts.....If Wilf doesn't get his stadium or some promise of such he will be gone in less than 5 years....everybody keeps throwing out the number 2011, but thats not too far away, and a stadium even with approval takes 4-5 years to build.....that doesn't leave us much time to get it done does it?

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    Re: A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    "jdvike" wrote:
    I haven't kissed them goodbye....I merely stated that if he does go,I'll follow.

    The Brown and the Colts leases weren't up and how did that go?...oh yeah they moved out in the dark of the night.

    So if Wilf wants out of this lease he will get out....he could even buy out the lease.

    I have had this discussion before on both sides...Nobody wants them to stay more than myself.

    The club as it is now with the dome, and its lease, does not generate enough income to stay competitive.....is this a B.S. story?....I can't say for sure, and neither can you, as long as we can't see the numbers in black and white and to hear the big wigs tell the story ....RED.

    I'm not wishing them gone I just have faced the facts.....If Wilf doesn't get his stadium or some promise of such he will be gone in less than 5 years....everybody keeps throwing out the number 2011, but thats not too far away, and a stadium even with approval takes 4-5 years to build.....that doesn't leave us much time to get it done does it?
    There have been rumors about the Vikings leaving for a decade now. Sometimes they have been closer to leaving than others. IMHO, this is not one of those times. Red McCheap dangled that carrot in front of the legislature his entire tenure as owner, and it didn't work. Zygi is taking a radically different approach, and has made more ground in one year than anybody else did in 10. Yes, the 2011 lease termination date is looming, but for the first time in a long, long time I am actually no worried about it. I have faith that Zygi will get it done.
    Zeus wrote:
    When are you going to realize that picking out the 20 bad throws this year and ignoring the 300 good ones does not make your point?

    =Z=

  10. #10
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    Re: A damper on Vikings stadium plan

    To the state of Minnesota, what is the problem? There must be somewhere the Vikings can build the stadium. There are surrounding areas around St. Paul/ Minneapolis, Mankato, Blaine etc. If the city of Cincinnati with it's conservative crap can build two stadiums, then why can't the state get it done. It is really a shame that we are bickering over this issue. I love my Vikings and have since 1971 at the age of 4. I know that this can get done.

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