ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The federal judge hearing the Minnesota Vikings' dispute with Wells Fargo over office-tower rooftop signs near the new stadium will rule on the case within three weeks, with neither side budging after months of negotiations.
U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank said Friday during a hearing on motions seeking summary judgment that he would issue his order no later than June 24, perhaps sooner. Both sides asked Frank to rule in their favor before a potential trial in July.
U.S. Bank Stadium will formally open later this summer, named for a Wells Fargo competitor at an undisclosed cost that's undoubtedly dozens of millions of dollars over several years.
Across the street, twin 17-story office towers are each emblazoned with red-and-yellow Wells Fargo logos as part of a mixed-used development largely funded by the San Francisco-based bank. The Vikings and Wells Fargo struck a deal over signage two years ago, but the team took the bank to court last December because the rooftop signs were illuminated and raised rather than painted and flat.
''Under the agreement, you would see nothing but the stadium the Vikings bargained and paid for,'' said Kevin Coan, an attorney for the team. He later added: ''It was a very calculated decision to ignore the agreement and hope that the Vikings and the court would let it pass.''
The signs were installed by Wells Fargo at a cost of $490,000.
Coan and his co-counsel have labeled the signs a giant ''photo bomb'' of aerial images of the $1.1 billion venue and a breach of the contract with Wells Fargo, whose lawyers have countered that the signs are within the rights of the deal struck two years ago.
Coan's request for relief was simply enforcement of the contract as the Vikings have interpreted it, with rooftop logos that aren't lit or raised.
During prime-time games and national events, those familiar blimp shots overhead the stadium would be cluttered by the Wells Fargo logos, the Vikings argued. Christopher Grote, one of the attorneys for the bank, argued against the team's ability to prove ''irreparable harm'' by any means other than speculation.
''No one on the ground ever sees these signs. No one in the Vikings' stadium ever sees these signs,'' Grote said, arguing that the signs won't be visible in a TV shot of the stadium. He later added: ''Outside of this room, there are only a handful of people on the face of this earth who are ever going to see that view.''
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL