Bank Can’t ‘Photobomb’|New Vikings Stadium

     (CN) — Wells Fargo must remove illuminated rooftop signs from its office buildings neighboring the Minnesota Vikings’ new football stadium, a federal judge ruled.
     Minnesota Vikings Football Stadium LLC sued Wells Fargo in Federal Court over the mounted rooftop signs on the bank’s two 17-story office towers next to the Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium.
     The stadium says the illuminated signs violate its contract with Wells Fargo, which allows only flat, painted rooftop signs.
     Dubbed the “photobomb” lawsuit, the Vikings claim the Wells Fargo lighting scheme is nothing less than a bald attempt to get a little free publicity whenever the stadium is shown on television.
     Five months ago, the stadium sought a preliminary injunction against Wells Fargo to prevent it from building the signs, but U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank said the stadium authority could not show it suffered any irreparable harm while the signs were still under construction.
     However, the Vikings’ persistence paid off.
     Frank ordered Wells Fargo to remove the signs Thursday “because the parties’ contract unambiguously prohibits the rooftop signs that Wells Fargo has installed on the Wells Fargo Towers.”
     He agreed that the bank’s signs harmed the stadium authority by tainting its image as an iconic part of the Minneapolis skyline.
     “Distraction from the ‘image’ of the stadium in Downtown East is an intangible harm related to public perception of a building and the brand associated with that building,” Frank said in a 30-page ruling.
     However, the judge declined to permanently forbid Wells Fargo from installing any rooftop signs, such as the flat, non-illuminated signs permitted by the contract.
     As a result of the decision, the bank will have to bear the cost of the signs — $490,000 — plus the cost of renting a crane to remove the signs, storage, and designing and installing new signage.
     It will also have to pay the stadium’s litigation costs on the breach of contract claim.
     Frank urged the parties to negotiate a resolution rather than engage in further litigation.
     The judge said he was dismayed by the necessity of a court order in this matter, given that both the stadium and Wells Fargo partnered with the Minneapolis city government to revitalize the city’s Downtown East neighborhood.
     “In light of these partnerships, each party proclaims its contributions and commitment to the community, yet neither seems to comprehend the possibility that spending vast time and resources on this litigation might disserve the public interest,” Frank wrote.
     Wells Fargo spokesperson Cristie Drumm said in a statement, “We are disappointed in the court’s ruling, yet we remain very proud of our $300 million community investment in the historic East Town neighborhood. We are considering our options at this time.”

%d bloggers like this: