An appeals court on Tuesday ruled that the city of Minneapolis cannot operate a park next to U.S. Bank Stadium, which it tried to do years ago under an agreement with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
The city handed operations of the Commons to the Park Board last year after a Hennepin County judge said the city violated its charter when it agreed to run the park. In Tuesday’s opinion, Judge Randall J. Slieter of the state Court of Appeals wrote “the plain language of the charter prohibits the City Council from operating and managing a park because the charter reserves this action to the Park Board.”
The 4.2-acre Commons opened in tandem with U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016. Citing untenable costs, the Park Board voted for the city to run the park, transferring over the rights through a convoluted arrangement that included nonprofit Green Minneapolis as the operator. A use agreement also allowed the Minnesota Vikings rights to the park for up to 40 days a year.
Two Minneapolis residents who were critical of the deal filed a lawsuit. One of the plaintiffs, John Hayden, said he was satisfied with the appeals court decision.
“At the end of the day, it’s up to the Park Board,” Hayden said. “The city has been wrong since the very beginning in a very obvious way, and now it’s time for them to correct it.”
In a statement, interim City Attorney Erik Nilsson said the city has not decided whether it will appeal.
The Park Board is considering whether to continue operating the park with Green Minneapolis through March, using $175,000 from the city, at its meeting Wednesday.
The appeals court also ruled that Hayden and fellow plaintiff Paul Ostrow could not challenge the use agreement that allows the Vikings certain rights over the park. Hayden said he wants the Park Board to reach a new deal that charges the team to use the space.