ACLU drops lawsuit challenging ‘clean zones’ around All-Star Game

Target Field in downtown Minneapolis will play host to the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 15. (MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson).

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota has dropped its lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis after the city scaled back permit and license restrictions planned around Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in mid-July.

Minneapolis originally announced that permits and licenses would be restricted for 10 days before and five days after the July 15 game. It established three so-called “clean zones” that covered all of downtown, parts of the University of Minnesota and a small part of northeast Minneapolis. The language in the regulation would have given Major League Baseball veto power over which permits or licenses would be granted in those areas.

The ACLU of Minnesota filed a lawsuit challenging the “clean zones”on May 8. The suit was filed on behalf of the organizers of a street festival called One Day in July, which celebrates the 1934 Minneapolis truckers strike. The lawsuit argued that it’s unconstitutional to give Major League Baseball control over the permitting process.

The city of Minneapolis revised its plans shortly after the lawsuit was filed by dropping the number of days the clean zones will be in place from 16 days to six. It replaced language in the resolution giving Major League Baseball veto power with a pledge to confer with the league about proposed events. It also stated that “constitutional rights will preempt other considerations.

Charles Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of  Minnesota, said in a statement Wednesday that the city has promised not to change the current wording of the resolution. It’s also granted permits for the One Day in July festival.

“Our First Amendment rights should not held hostage by private corporations, and we are glad that the City of Minneapolis recognized that and made the appropriate changes to the resolution,” Samuelson said. “We hope that moving forward the City Of Minneapolis will be more aware of our constitutional concerns and ensure that future resolutions better protect our Constitutional Rights.”

Minneapolis originally agreed to create the clean zones as part of the city’s 2011 bid for the All-Star Game.