Court demands briefs in Vikings stadium case

  • Article by: JANET MOORE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 14, 2014 - 9:21 PM

State urged court to rule quickly on challenge to financing.

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Architect’s rendering of the new Vikings stadium.

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered all sides in a bitter dispute over funding for the $1 billion Vikings stadium to state their case by Thursday afternoon.

Last Friday, three Minneapolis residents — former mayoral candidate Douglas Mann, his wife, Linda, and one-time city school board member David Tilsen — filed a lawsuit with the state’s highest court claiming that stadium supporters pushed through the project without a citywide vote required by the Minneapolis city charter. The state subsequently canceled a $468 million bond sale slated for this week due to the legal uncertainty created by the case.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget filed a response that said the legal challenge “suffers from several fatal flaws.” The purported flaws include a failure to lodge their complaint in a timely manner, a lack of jurisdiction, and a flawed interpretation of the Minneapolis Constitution regarding the use of sales tax revenue to help fund the stadium.

Further, the state called for the Manns and Tilsen to post a $49.7 million surety bond to cover any losses the project suffers if the suit is unsuccessful.

Douglas Mann refrained Tuesday from discussing the state’s response to the lawsuit. But he said the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority — the public body in charge of stadium construction — and the state “are attempting to derail a legal process on constitutional issues by pricing the petitioners … out of the legal process.”

The challengers are representing themselves — Douglas Mann says he has paralegal training and his wife is a nonpracticing attorney.

The Supreme Court ordered that the challengers and state each file a memorandum of law by 4:30 p.m. Thursday addressing whether the court’s original jurisdiction has been properly invoked, and whether the Manns and Tilsen can “obtain the relief requested” through their petition.

A request filed Monday by the stadium authority to intervene in the case was granted by the Supreme Court.

Mann said he opposes the authority’s intervention in the case, saying the body is only “tangentially involved.” The apparent motive for this action by stadium authority officials is to “shield themselves from the legal consequences of their own malfeasance,” he said.

The state, in its response, questioned the timing of the challenge, which was filed 3 p.m. Friday — “nearly two years after the passage of the stadium legislation, but less than two business days before the scheduled bond sale,” casting a “material cloud over the bond sale.”

The delay could imperil the planned opening of the stadium for the 2016 NFL season, and delay payment of “hundreds of workers and businesses with a concrete interest in the stadium project,” as well other sports teams and cultural groups beyond the Vikings, the state alleged.

The state has requested the court dismiss the challenge “at its earliest opportunity.”

The court, in its motion, noted that Associate Justice Alan Page “took no part in the consideration or decision” of the case. Page played for the Vikings from 1967 to 1978.

 

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752

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