Stadium plaza dispute flares anew for Vikings stadium authority, developer

Minneapolis Ventures says the plaza in front of the Metrodome could be substantially redeveloped, and says renderings like this show its potential worth. (Minneapolis Venture rendering)

There’s yet another dust-up over the plaza in front of the Metrodome. This time, the company owned by Minneapolis developer Bob Lux and several partners is saying that the agency that runs the stadium didn’t give Minneapolis Venture proper notice for the traditional game-day use of the plaza for the Vikings pre-season game against the Tennessee Titans last week.

A letter from Minneapolis Venture, called a “notice of default” threatens to kick the stadium authority off the property if they don’t comply with the terms of a 2003 lease, including providing a complete event schedule and proof of insurance.

Spokesman Jon Austin took it further:

“We continue to be disappointed in the actions of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) and its apparent contempt for our property rights as owners of the Plaza. Just last Friday, for example, the Authority filed a legal claim asserting that it has a right to use the Plaza under the Use Agreement even as it was – at that very time – using the Plaza without complying with the explicit requirements of the Use Agreement. As the Authority is well aware, it failed to seek (much less obtain) our written consent for its use of the Plaza last week, it set up on Tuesday for a Thursday evening game and has left its tents up through today and it failed to provide any proof of insurance for the vendors using the Plaza. All of those actions are expressly detailed in the Use Agreement that MSFA has chosen to ignore.

“Further, it’s ironic that the MSFA has asked for a court determination that we have an obligation to negotiate in good faith for an extension of the Use Agreement beyond its October 31 termination date even though the Authority has not made a single proposal for such an extension and even though we have asked – in writing – for such a proposal on at least two occasions, June 7 and September 12.”

It’s the latest skirmish in the battle over the value of the land between the Metrodome light rail station and the stadium.

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said in an interview today that the plaza “has always been part of Metrodome events” and that the owners knew that when they bought the property in 2007. “He clearly knew we had the rights to use it,” Kelm-Helgen says. “It’s just hoops that they’re putting us through… Clearly they’re angry and trying to make their point, that if we don’t pay them, we can’t use their plaza.”

The authority and Minneapolis Venture are battling in court over the plaza space, for which Minneapolis Venture is reportedly asking as much as $26 million. The legal response from the MSFA points out that Minneapolis Venture successfully appealed the tax valuation of the property just two years ago — reducing its value to $4.5 million.

Here’s the nitty gritty: