Doug Mann explains why his lawsuit could derail Vikings stadium [UPDATE]
|And you thought the Vikings stadium was a done deal almost two years ago...|
"Although I felt it had no merit, I was extremely concerned that this lawsuit would delay the financing of the stadium, and the progress of the $400 million development adjacent to it," Dayton continued. "Today's decision clears the way for thousands of Minnesotans to get to work on these two important projects."
(Original post from January 14) -- With little time to spare if the new Vikings stadium is to open in time for the 2016 season, the state soon needs to sell bonds to pay for the ongoing construction on the Metrodome site. Per the stadium bill, Minneapolis sales taxes will then be used to repay those bonds.
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But that won't be the case if 57-year-old Minneapolis resident Doug Mann gets his way. Mann, an out-of-work nurse who has been putting his paralegal training to work as an amateur lawyer, recently filed a lawsuit that could prevent the state from using Minneapolis taxes to pay off the bonds. And if he's successful, not only is the stadium's construction timeline jeopardized, but so is the entire redevelopment of the adjacent Star Tribune property.
We spoke with Mann yesterday and asked him to break down his legal argument in the simplest terms possible. He explained it like this: Minnesota's constitution includes a provision that "The power of taxation shall never be surrendered, suspended or contracted away." But contracting away Minneapolis's power of taxation was exactly what officials did when they decided to use city sales taxes to repay state bonds, Mann argues.
"The purpose of the lawsuit is to get Minneapolis taxpayers off the hook for the obligation to pay debt service on state-issued bonds," Mann told us. "If I prevail, the Legislature will have to make some other arrangement to pay off the bonds."
But the problem for stadium supporters is that at this point, there's no time to make another arrangement.
For one, even a short delay means the stadium won't be ready for the 2016 season. Furthermore, the $400 million plan to redevelop the adjacent Star Tribune land into downtown's largest park -- featuring new office towers, 300 residential units, and retail stores -- could be jeopardized altogether in the event of a delay, as the timeframe for that project includes a number of time-sensitive agreements the city entered into with Ryan Companies.
State officials are taking Mann's lawsuit seriously, as on Sunday it was announced that the bond sale will be delayed until the legal challenge is resolved.
"One consequence of trying to hold the bond sale now is that they would have to disclose to potential buyers that there is a legal action that would jeopardize the potential repayment of bonds," Mann said. "So there's no way they can sell the bonds until they get some sort of resolution from the Supreme Court."
But how could officials possibly not see this coming? After all, the language in the aforementioned constitutional provision seems clear.
(For more, click to page two.)