The bond sale for new Minnesota Vikings stadium funding has been delayed, as a last-minute lawsuit could impact the facility’s opening date.
The stadium is set to open in 2016 as home of the Vikings, as well as the winter home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers and a neutral site for many other local college and high-school teams. It’s replacing the Metrodome in this respect; even after the move of the Minnesota Twins and the opening of a renovated Siebert Field, the Metrodome was still a very busy venue for hosting February and March Gopher games. The new stadium is being designed to accommodate the same level of spring baseball.
The lawsuit was filed by three Minneapolis residents who argue that voters should have approved city spending on the stadium: the city has an ordinance that requires any stadium spending over $10 million be put to voters. This issue was avoided during the planning of Target Field when Hennepin County and the Minnesota Twins stepped forward with a funding plan. And the current Vikings funding deal was designed to avoid invoking a referendum; in fact, the three Minneapolis residents (former mayoral candidate Douglas Mann, his wife, and former school board member David Tilsen, whose late father, Ken Tilsen, was known for his effective use of the court system to fight for civil rights; the trio are certainly not gadflies) have already lost one court case on the issue and are appealing while also filing a new motion.
The motion was taken seriously enough that officials with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority called off the bond sale for now. From the Star Tribune:
Stadium leaders hope the Minnesota Supreme Court will rule quickly on issues raised in a Friday afternoon filing with the court, but said even a two-week delay in the bond sale could add a year to the stadium’s ambitious construction schedule.
“Major problems will result from any significant delay,” Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said Sunday in a conference call that also included state Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter. The authority will own and operate the $1 billion stadium slated to open in July 2016 on the Metrodome site.
“We will be short $28 million if we are not able to pay our bills [without bond proceeds] … by the end of the month. Architects and Minnesota companies have done work in the past month and submitted bills due at the end of January,” said Kelm-Helgen. She said bond funds need to be available by Jan. 23 to avoid delays that could postpone the stadium opening for a year. The delay could also jeopardize the Downtown East park and business development, she said.
Some bills, such as payment for a transit station, are due next week. Work has already begun on the new facility, while the demolition of the Metrodome has begun with the dismantling of seats from the grandstand. The new stadium is set to open in 2016; any serious delays would push it to 2017. And there’s a domino effect here: an ambitious Wells Fargo development next to the new stadium, which would bring 5,000 new jobs to downtown Minneapolis, could be delayed as well.
Rendering via Minnesota Vikings.
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