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Gov. Mark Dayton announced Thursday he’s rejecting a request by the American Indian Movement (AIM) to halt the sale of bonds for the new Viking stadium over the use of the name and logo of the Washington Redskins in the new facility.
Indian activists had urged him to hold a hearing on the matter and refer the case to the state Supreme Court as a way to put pressure on the National Football League and football team to drop its nickname.
Dayton said that if he or Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner James Schowalter “unilaterally halt the bond sale, we would be in clear violation” of the state statute that authorized the bond sale.
Last week AIM attorney Larry Leventhal petitioned Schowalter to delay the bond sale on the grounds that the nickname violated federal and state civil rights laws.
When Schowalter turned down the request, AIM asked Dayton to overrule him. In rejecting delay of the bond sale, Dayton said, “The issues raised in AIM’s petition are legal and constitutional questions which would have to be decided in a court of law.
“I have made my own position very clear. I believe the Washington pro football team’s nickname is offensive and should be changed. I have suggested a strategy that I believe has the best chance to achieve that result.”
The strategy Dayton recommended was made during his news conference last week. “If you want to put an end to the name, get every member of Congress to sign a statement that they won’t attend a Redskins game in Washington and across the country until the name is changed,” he said.
In his memorandum Thursday, Dayton noted that for him to halt the sale “would expose the state of Minnesota to lawsuits for hundreds of millions of dollars by vendors, who now have signed contracts with the MSFA [Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority], and others, who would suffer financial losses from that action.
Told of Dayton’s position on AIM’s request, Leventhal said he and the activists would “assess” their next steps.