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Builder Says Wells Fargo Out of Bounds on Sign

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - Wells Fargo is attempting to permanently "photo bomb" the new "U.S. Bank Stadium" being built for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings by erecting signs on adjacent building that do not conform to an agreement between the bank and the stadium, the facility's builder claims in court.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court, plaintiff Minnesota Vikings Football Stadium LLC says Wells Fargo agreed that the only signage it would have on two, 17-story towers it is building directly adjacent to the new stadium would be relatively unobtrusive.

The Feb. 10, 2014 agreement with Wells Fargo restricted the image, location, scale, size and utility of the bank's signs, the complaint says.

Despite that agreement, on Aug. 8, 2014, the plaintiff claims Wells Fargo requested to amend the agreement to include raised and illuminated lettering.

"At that time, Wells Fargo informed StadCo that if StadCo did not agree to amend the Signage Agreement to allow for the roof top signs reflected in the New Sign Plan, Wells Fargo would attempt to circumvent the Signage Agreement by lighting the entire roof of each tower, including the signs," the complaint states.

Five days later, the plaintiff sent Wells Fargo a letter stating it no intention of amending the signage agreement and requesting that the defendant adhere to the agreement.

"Wells Fargo has advised StadCo that it does not intend to comply with the Signage Agreement, and that it intends to install and maintain roof top signage that is mounted and illuminated as presented in the New Sign Plan, all in violation of the Signage Agreement," the complaint says.

The Stadium LLC claims in the lawsuit that it was granted control over the use, design, branding and image of U.S. Bank Stadium through a series of agreements with the Minnesota Sports Facility Association.

The plaintiff claims Wells Fargo's signs would harm the plaintiff's efforts to build "an iconic, bold new stadium" and related infrastructure in downtown Minneapolis.

The Stadium LLC says that even allowing Wells Fargo to build the signs was a "major concession," given the plaintiff's ability to prohibit any such signs.

Wells Fargo's efforts to build the signs is an attempt "to permanently 'photo bomb' the image of the iconic U.S. Bank Stadium," the complaint says.

In November 2013, the Minneapolis City Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the building of the towers, but did not specifically prohibit rooftop signs. The plaintiff opposed the ruling and appealed, which was also denied.

Wells Fargo spokesperson John Hobot responded to the claims in an emailed statement.

"We are satisfied with the signage package that was approved for our $300 million community investment initiative for our new campus in the historic Downtown East neighborhood," Hobot said.

The plaintiff seeks an injunction prohibiting the construction of the signs, requiring Wells Fargo to remove the signs and prohibiting Wells Fargo from placing any signs on the towers.

The plaintiff is represented by Kevin Coan of Hinshaw & Culbertson.

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