Reporter Rochelle Olson updates you on the construction of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

Fight between stadium authority and plaza landowner turns surreal

Posted by: Janet Moore Updated: October 11, 2013 - 4:16 PM

The owner of the Downtown East plaza outside the Metrodome, currently embroiled in a lawsuit it filed against the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, says recent court filings in the case have taken on an “Alice in Wonderland” quality.

Minneapolis Venture LLC filed suit two months ago in Hennepin County District Court against the Authority, the public body responsible for overseeing operations at the Dome and construction of the new $975 million Vikings Stadium. The Authority is considering buying the land and underground parking garage at the plaza owned by Minneapolis Venture, but talks between the two have stalled, turned bitter and now, apparently, surreal.

Part of the suit highlights a disagreement over a 10-year-old pact between Minneapolis Venture and the Authority’s precursor organization, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission, which permits the Vikings to use the plaza for pre-game festivities. That contract, Minneapolis Venture says, expires Oct. 31.

However, there are four Vikings home games after Oct. 31, meaning the game-day purple party zone may be in peril.

In court documents, the Authority and the team argue that the game-day celebrations should continue -- as they have for the last decade. Minneapolis Venture is “seeking to inflate the valuation of property in either negotiation or eminent domain proceedings,” documents state.

But in a statement Friday, Minneapolis Venture spokesman Jon Austin quoted a rather lengthy passage from the 1865 Lewis Carroll literary classic to describe the Authority’s stance on the plaza issue (see below).

“In no less than eight affidavits and supporting documents, the Sports Authority claims that plain words such as ‘shall terminate’ and ‘negotiate in good faith’ should be interpreted to mean precisely the opposite of their clear and settled meaning,” Austin wrote. “In other words, the Sports Authority’s position is, ‘It’s not what the words actually mean, it’s what we say they mean that matters.” (That’s Austin’s boldface.)

The Authority has filed for a temporary injunction to preserve the plaza’s status quo while the overall lawsuit winds its way through the courts. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Oct. 24.

“We’re confident that the court will reject their attempt to drag this matter further down a rabbit hole of absurdity and nonsense,” Austin said.

Jennifer Hathaway, spokeswoman for the Authority, declined to comment on the “Alice in Wonderland” claims.

For those football fans interested in the exact text cited from "Alice in Wonderland," here it is:

The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he SAID was, 'Why is a raven like a writing-desk?'
'Come, we shall have some fun now!' thought Alice. 'I'm glad they've begun asking riddles.—I believe I can guess that,' she added aloud.
'Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?' said the March Hare.
'Exactly so,' said Alice.
'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on.
'I do,' Alice hastily replied; 'at least—at least I mean what I say—that's the same thing, you know.'
'Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter. 'You might just as well say that "I see what I eat" is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!'
'You might just as well say,' added the March Hare, 'that "I like what I get" is the same thing as "I get what I like"!'
'You might just as well say,' added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, 'that "I breathe when I sleep" is the same thing as "I sleep when I breathe"!'
'It IS the same thing with you,' said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped.

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