ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Two downtown heavyweights battled it out in Federal Court in St. Paul Friday, arguing over building signage.
The Vikings are suing Wells Fargo bank. They claim that the bank is in breach of contract for the building signage near the Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium.
The raised letter rooftop signs on each of the twin Wells Fargo towers in the new Downtown East development will be illuminated — the Vikings claim that’s a violation of an agreement made with Wells Fargo nearly two years ago.
What people see from the street level — large yellow and red lettering on each of Wells Fargo’s twin towers — is not the issue. In fact, the Vikings don’t have a problem with that signage so close to the new U.S. Bank Stadium that will be the Vikings new home beginning this coming August.
The problem, they say, are the raised, illuminated lettering adorning the rooftops of the Wells Fargo towers.
Says Vikings V.P. of public affairs, Lester Bagley, “What we agreed to is a flat, painted sign,” Vikings V.P. of public affairs, Lester Bagley said. “And what they installed is five-foot high, elevated signage.”
For 90 minutes on Friday afternoon, the Vikings and Wells Fargo attorneys argued over a 2014 signage agreement.
The Vikings claim the bank went too far with the mounted lettering, telling Judge Donovan Frank that the lettering amounts to “ambush advertising,” so close to the nearly complete U.S. Bank Stadium.
Bagley said the agreement was an attempt to prevent a similar infringement that forced the Twins to take action against Sanford Health, when the South Dakota-based medical provider erected a large sign close to Target Field.
“There’s a reason we signed this agreement,” Bagley said. “This is a very important issue, and we have no choice but to pursue this legal course.”
But attorneys for Wells Fargo argue the Vikings can’t prove irreparable harm. Attorney Chris Grote told the judge that the Vikings are trying to manufacture something that doesn’t exist.
Grote asked how rooftop signage is damaging to the image of the new stadium, but the signs on the sides of the Wells Fargo towers are not. Wells Fargo contends that both the city and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority had approved the company’s signage plans months ago.
Wells Fargo issued a statement saying it’s proud of the company’s $300 million investment in the development and hopes to display the signs as planned. An injunction could force the bank to remove the signage while the court case continues towards resolution.
Judge Donovan Frank expects to issue his ruling within two weeks.