Vikings: Wells Fargo trying to photo bomb new stadium with roof signs

U.S. Bank Stadium
The exterior of U.S. Bank Stadium continued to take shape during construction in Minneapolis, Monday, July 20, 2015.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News file

Updated: 11:39 a.m. | Posted: 10:02 a.m.

The Minnesota Vikings are suing Wells Fargo, saying the bank is trying to muscle in on the image of the new stadium the team is building in downtown Minneapolis, which is named for a Wells Fargo competitor.

A suit filed in Hennepin County District Court on Tuesday says the bank and the team struck a deal that allowed Wells Fargo to put 56-foot square roof signs atop each of the two office towers the bank is building near the stadium — since formally named for rival U.S. Bank.

"Wells Fargo has recently started installing mounted and illuminated roof top signs that do not conform to the parties agreement in an effort to permanently 'photo bomb' the image of the iconic U.S. Bank Stadium," according to the complaint submitted on behalf of the Vikings by a Minneapolis law firm, which adds, "The prohibited action must be stopped immediately."

Wells Fargo spokesperson John Hobot said in a statement on Wednesday that the company is "satisfied with the signage package that was approved for our $300 million community investment initiative for our new campus."

New signage
Part of the new signage on the east side of U.S. Bank Stadium is secured into place in Minneapolis, Monday, July 20, 2015.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News file

Minnesota Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the team had been trying to come to terms with Wells Fargo about the signs.

"We objected repeatedly. We met with them. We called them, we objected in writing," Bagley said. "This is our last resort."

Bagley said the sign agreement signed in 2014 provides for the possibility of a court injunction.

"Bottom line, they violated an agreement, in writing, a signed agreement," Bagley said. "We felt it was important to call them on it."

Exhibits filed with the suit include a sign agreement signed between Wells Fargo and StadCo, the holding company for the Vikings stadium development effort. The complaint calls illuminated signs with raised lettering a "material deviation from the roof signage" agreed to in February 2014.

The suit suggests the bank and the team have been tussling over whether Wells Fargo could light the signs, the entire roof, or nothing at all. A photo dated Monday shows the signs in place on the roof of the new bank building.

Court records show the lawsuit has been assigned to Hennepin County District Court Judge James Moore. A court spokesperson says a hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 30.

The Vikings said in 2013 the team feared a prominent display of a brand near their stadium could diminish the value of the naming rights of their new $1 billion stadium, particularly in aerial television and photo images of the new stadium and surrounding area.

The U.S. Bank Stadium name is already displayed in large script across the north half of the stadium's roof, seven months before the building opens. Neither the team nor the bank have disclosed what U.S. Bank paid the team for the naming rights.

Read the complaint

MPR News reporter Jon Collins contributed to this story.

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