Another Potential Snag For Vikings Stadium Project?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There’s more objection surrounding the new Vikings stadium on Thursday, a little more than a week after officials broke ground on one of the largest construction projects in Minnesota history.

Except this time it literally deals with areas surrounding the new stadium. Two former mayoral candidates and a former city council president filed a last-minute lawsuit challenging how Minneapolis is paying for the $400 million downtown east project.

That’s the two blocks between Park Avenue and 5th Avenues, and 4th and 5th Streets. It’s where there would be one million square foot area of office space, retail space and housing among other things.

But there are potential issues with the proposed new development.

The parking ramp and park area called “the yard” would link the new stadium with this development so they would be shared by people using both. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit said the people would be, in part, funding stadium infrastructure.

The City of Minneapolis said it’s different development altogether, and the ramp is needed for the new development although it may help the stadium too. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking an injunction to delay approval of $65 million in bonds to help pay for the ramp and the park.

That money is supposed to be approved Friday by the Minneapolis City Council, making this what they call a last resort to stop this for now.

Plaintiffs said the city is taking on burdens of the stadium infrastructure which was supposed to be paid for privately by the Vikings instead of in part by the people. The city responded by saying it’s simply not breaking any state or city laws for this new development.

If the new development is stopped by the injunction, the approval for the new development could not be heard till 2014. That’s when another council with several different members would hear it.

The lawsuit itself is very complicated. It includes five different points having to do with funding.  For example, the lawsuit alleges the city council has no authority to establish or maintain a park under city charter. It should be done by the park and recreation board.

The City of Minneapolis has a Dec. 27 deadline to close deals on the $400 million downtown east project. If a judge doesn’t rule on this by then or rules in favor of the plaintiffs, it will have all sorts of implications on the stadium project.

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