Judge rejects legal challenge to Vikings stadium funding in Minneapolis

Doug Mann and his supporters heading into court in August to challenge the Vikings stadium deal. (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)

A Hennepin County District Court judge rejected an effort by then-mayoral candidate Doug Mann to put the Vikings stadium deal to a vote in Minneapolis.

Philip Bush issued an order dismissing the “Petition for Writ of Mandamus” from Mann. The nurse, mayoral candidate and stadium opponent asked Bush in August to force the stadium deal onto the November ballot to satisfy the 1997 city charter requirement that stadium spending over $10 million be put to voters.

The city pledged $150 million up front and at least $6 million a year in operating funding to the new Vikings stadium back in 2012.

The ruling is not unexpected, although there is an interesting nugget deep in the details: Bush rejects the argument by city attorney Peter Ginder that the hospitality taxes Minneapolis intends to tap for the project are not “city resources” and thus not subject to the cap set by voters in 1997.

Writes Bush:

“Within the meaning of Section 13 of the City Charter, the Stadium Legislation entails the use of more than $10 million of ‘city resources’ for the financing of a professional sports facility. Section 13 is thus applicale.”

That’s a rejection of one aspect of the initial argument by the financing plan’s supporters: because the state collects the taxes at the point of sale and sends the revenue back to Minneapolis, it isn’t technically the city’s money.

“The voters intent is not undone simply because the statutory mechanism for collecting and directing the sales tax revenue funding the Stadium precludes the city from using that revenue for any other purpose,” Bush adds.

But Bush also notes that as the Legislature giveth, it also taketh away: ” In enacting the Stadium Legislation, the legislature preempted the referendum requirement in Section 13 of the the City Charter.”

And that, as they say, is that.

“I’m going to have to get together with some people and decide what the next step will be. I haven’t decided whether to challenge the ruling,” Mann said this morning. “There is a possibility for an appeal.” He also said he may go to Ramsey County and try to challenge the stadium legislation itself in St. Paul.

Read Bush’s whole order here:

  • Hugh Shakeshaft

    Keep the fight going, Mr. Mann. This stadium deal is completely impractical and unfair.

  • expect_resistance

    The stadium is a HUGE mistake for Minneapolis. I hope citizens of Minneapolis remember the “city charter requirement that stadium spending over $10 million be put to voters” was violated. We were never asked for a vote. This was a win for corporate power not people power.