The More We Learn, the Uglier the Arden Hills Vikings Stadium Proposal Looks

Yesterday, the Minnesota Vikings / Zygi Wilf welfare queen supporters got all worked up on Twitter about an article written by Rochelle Olson with the StarTribune that sheds some light on Wilf’s Arden Hills real estate development plans beyond a Vikings stadium. Apparently, Wilf is asking for nearly twice the land he needs to build a football stadium in order to build additional real estate projects at taxpayer expense.

Olson reported:

A red circle on a map has become the latest obstacle that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf might have to overcome to win support for his proposed stadium in Arden Hills.

The circle, surrounding 120 acres next to Wilf’s planned 260-acre stadium parcel, drew gasps last week at a St. Paul Rotary luncheon when business leaders saw the label imposed on it — “Potential Convention Center Hotel.”

This lead to some harsh words on Twitter from the Vikings’ newly promoted Director of Corporate Communications, Jeff Anderson:

Jeff Anderson Attacking Rochelle Olson on Twitter

It’s not surprising to hear a subject of a story disagree with some aspect of a story written about them, but one thing that I find particularly strange about this situation is that Rochelle Olson isn’t the only person who reported this. In fact, Dave Orrick and Frederick Melo with the Pioneer Press reported the same thing earlier in the week:

Wilf, a real estate mogul who has built homes and businesses in most of the 50 states, ducked a question about who would control development rights in two areas north and south of the stadium. He said his primary focus was the stadium itself and that those sites would take five to 10 years to develop.

On maps distributed to each lunch table, the two spots are designated “potential corporate campus” and “potential convention center/hotel complex.”

According to an agreement between the county and the team, Wilf would retain development rights to those parcels, totaling about 200 acres.

“He would own the 50 acres up on one end and 120 acres on the south end,” Bennett said later.

In all, the Vikings would occupy 430 of the site’s 2,370 acres. The stadium would border the county’s Rice Creek Northern Regional Trail as well as a protected wildlife corridor and some 1,700 to 1,800 acres of army training land not included in the proposed deal.

The last paragraph just above this one seems to need one clarification: It sounds like it’s not the Vikings but the Wilf’s real estate business that would occupy 430 acres of tax subsidized Minnesota land in Arden Hills. The proposed stadium, with its insane 21,000 parking spaces, would only take up 230 acres of that huge parcel.

Vikings welfare queen supporters, including SaveTheVikes.org’s Cory Merrifield, were quick to call for a boycot of the StarTribune.

Boycot the StarTribune for Reporting what the Pioneer Press Reported?

Apparently, in Cory Merrifield’s twisted world view, the reason the StarTribune published that piece was because of a financial bias:

@SaveTheVikesOrg on the StarTribune's Apparent Bias

Which, of course, doesn’t explain why the Pioneer Press ran the same information earlier in the week. Is the Pioneer Press working for the StarTribune? That seems unlikely.

Were the three reporters from two competing newspapers wrong in their coverage of the proposed plans for the Arden Hills site beyond a Vikings stadium? That doesn’t seem likely.

Which makes me wonder: Why would we give a guy in New Jersey hundreds of acres of the State of Minnesota beyond what he would need to build a stadium (a stadium he doesn’t need, but wants)? If he needs 230 acres to build a stadium, shouldn’t the discussion be for 230 acres?

Also, why would we want to spend taxpayer dollars to build 21,000 parking places in a distant suburb to support 8 home games a year when we could use a perfectly good stadium that is surrounded by parking, bus lines, and an expanding light rail network? (aka. The Dome is Home!)

The Arden Hills Vikings Stadium plan seems way too stupid to support with public dollars, but is just fine if Zygi Wilf is willing to spend his own money to build it.

Questions for Jeff Anderson

Were Dave Orrick and Frederick Melo with the Pioneer Press accurate when they wrote:

According to an agreement between the county and the team, Wilf would retain development rights to those parcels, totaling about 200 acres.

Was Ramsey County Commissioner, Tony Bennett, quoted accurately by Dave Orrick and Frederick Melo with the Pioneer Press when they wrote:

“[Wilf] would own the 50 acres up on one end and 120 acres on the south end,” Bennett said later.

Were Wilf’s statements accurately reported by Dave Orrick and Frederick Melo with the Pioneer Press when they reported:

[Wilf] said his primary focus was the stadium itself and that those sites would take five to 10 years to develop.

What are Zygi Wilf’s plans for the 50 acre piece of land next to the proposed stadium?

What are Zygi Wilf’s plans for the 120 acre piece of land next to the proposed stadium?

You said on Twitter:

Let’s be very clear about the Star Tribune’s stadium article today. The Vikings have never had plans for a convention center in Arden Hills.

But you didn’t clarify what the plans are for any of that land. I imagine that you can see how it’s confusing to the public to hear one thing from a county commissioner who’s been negotiating with the Vikings, but only a denial with no clarification in response. Can you see how that makes your statement fall flat?

If you want to be clear, be clear. Denying a plan that’s written down and verified by a county commissioner who’s been negotiating with the Vikings without providing an explanation for what Zygi Wilf plans to do with that land is not being clear.

If Zygi Wilf is going to ask for 170 acres of land beyond what he needs to build his unnecessary stadium, is it unreasonable for the public to ask what you plan to do with the welfare?

3 thoughts on “The More We Learn, the Uglier the Arden Hills Vikings Stadium Proposal Looks”

  1. I personally think there are 4 words to describe why the Vikings stadium does not belong in Arden Hills or anywhere outside of Minneapolis: NO LIGHT RAIL ACCESS! A big part of the reason the light rail in Minnesota was built in the first place was to provide transportation for fans to and from sports games at the Metrodome. Now the Vikings expect their fans to travel by car to the suburbs to attend their games? What I don’t understand is why there was such a push in the late 1970’s for the Metrodome to be built in order to provide shelter from outside weather conditions just for it to be left to sit empty about 30 years after its construction. The Minnesota Twins got their way when threats were made by former owner Carl Pohlad to sell the team if he did not get his way in having an outdoor stadium. It was said that if we want a winning baseball team, we need a winning stadium. If this holds true, just look at how the Twins performed during our current season. Now Zygi Wilf is not only asking for a brand new 1 billion dollar stadium to be built in Arden Hills, but to build additional real estate at the tax payers’ expense? With the lack of funding we have for education in Minnesota public schools, a new stadium inside of its own mini city is the last thing we need. How long are we going to let the sports billionaires get their way before we agree that enough is enough? Bottom line: If the Minnesota Vikings are expecting all their desires and wishes to be met and are not willing to compromise, I think it is time for them to pack their bags and find another state to burden.

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