The journey toward a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings has been fraught with obstacles, and Friday brought a new one that could halt construction and may even push back opening day.
The construction schedule is tight, with the Vikings slated to be playing in their new facility in the 2016 season, but a legal filing with the Minnesota Supreme Court put that in jeopardy on Friday.
The writ of prohibition is comprised of a legal argument involving the bond sales the state planned to begin on Monday, and the eleventh-hour appeal may throw a serious wrench into the strict schedule.
The proceeds from the bond sales are expected to cover expenses for construction, land acquisition, and other expenses during the billion-dollar project; however, a trio of Minneapolis residents has called for a time out because they believe the impending sale is unconstitutional.
Late on Friday, Doug Mann, Linda Mann and David Tilsen put forward their petition, claiming that since Minneapolis sales tax revenue is included in the stadium deal, a constitutional conflict exists without a referendum vote.
"The governor, the Legislature, the mayor and the majority of the City Council wanted this deal so bad, they were willing to bend and break any rule to make it happen," Doug Mann contends.
This isn't the first time that Mann has taken his concerns to court either. Over the summer, he was at the Hennepin County District Court trying to scuttle the financing package because he believed it should have faced a city-wide vote. That attempt failed, and those who spoke with Fox 9 News say the latest appeal is a long-shot; however, any delay beyond a few days could be detrimental.
Although similar arguments have been made in the past, it remains unclear how the Minnesota Supreme Court will respond. Even so, rather than begin the sale with the uncertainty in the air, state officials have elected to press pause even though it could raise costs and push back the opening.
"The opening of the stadium could be delayed if this goes on for more than a couple days," Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, told Fox 9 News by phone. "There could be a work stoppage if we can't pay our bills, and companies won't continue to work -- and we'll potentially miss a third season where the team would play at TCF."
The appropriation bonds were expected to cover the nearly $500 million public portion of the new stadium -- and Kelm-Helgen says if they don't have at least some money soon, the land deal could be lost.
"If we can't close on that land by Jan. 23, the whole deal with Wells Fargo, the city and the authority is jeopardized," she said. "We absolutely can't lose a $400-million development."
The MSFA will own and operate the new stadium, and Kelm-Helgen added that she is concerned about how any delay to construction could impact the timetable. She spelled out many of her concerns in a statement that can be read in full here: http://bit.ly/1aibPo2