Mayoral candidate to challenge stadium bill

A Minneapolis mayoral candidate is leading a lawsuit challenging the Vikings stadium bill, saying that a citywide referendum should have been held despite the stadium bill overriding that provision.

Just when you think the last obstacle in the way of the Vikings stadium has been cleared and put in the rear view mirror, we have another precinct heard from.

Word that a judge in Hennepin County is going to hear arguments calling for stadium construction to be halted because of a violation to the city charter of Minneapolis could be cause for concern.

It would appear to be a case of using the clogged docket of the county's court system to politically grandstand two days before the opening of the Minnesota State Fair.

Doug Mann, an announced candidate for the Minneapolis mayoral election, is heading up the requested lawsuit. Mann is claiming that the stadium bill that passed the Minnesota State Legislature in 2012 violated the city charter requirements of a citywide referendum on any sports facilities project calling for more than $10 million be put on the ballot for voters to decide. In the wider scope of the stadium bill, which called for improvements to Target Center, and expansion of the Minneapolis skyway system and a kiss on the lips for a new St. Paul Saints stadium, the city's contribution is $309 million.

But the question of motivation and timing has to be considered for those who don't panic at the first alarm going off for what, by all appearances, would seem to be little more than an attempt by a political candidate to get his name out there prior to the biggest political one-stop-shopping political campaign that takes place – at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

The judicial request to hear arguments in the case was something the state's stadium bill anticipated. Unlike the 21-year court struggle between the Wilf family and former business partners that was public information for years prior to the stadium bill approval, the state's legal eagles did their due diligence – which should make Tuesday's argument baseless.

As part of the "whereas" statements that litter most substantial bills, one of the items addressed was the provision that any city commitment – which would exceed the charter-expressed limit 30 times over – included an override of any referendum provisions in the Minneapolis city charter. As part of the explanation for justifying the lack of the necessity for a referendum, the bill made provisions for the tax-generated city contribution would never actually enter the city's coffers – rather, it would be skimmed off the top by the state.

It would seem that Tuesday's case should (and likely will) be thrown out because, by all appearances, the suit doesn't have a leg to stand on. If it is summarily dismissed by the judge, one might have to question the motives that led to the lawsuit and the timing of it.

From the sounds of things, with the stadium deal being momentarily sidelined due to the reaction to a judge's verdict in a New Jersey business deal more than two decades ago, the arguments being presented Tuesday could cause a bubble of publicity. But, for what reason? A legitimate legal argument or a frivolous lawsuit intended to get some name recognition for a Minneapolis mayoral candidate?

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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