The fate of the so-called “People’s Stadium” in Minneapolis could ultimately be designed by people who wear black robes, one of whom coincidentally was once a member of the Purple People Eaters.
Yes, Alan Page and his cohorts on the Minnesota Supreme Court eventually could be called upon to resolve the question of whether the funding plan for the new Vikings stadium requires approval from the citizens of Minneapolis.
As of 1997, a citywide vote must be held on any investment of more than $10 million in a sports facility. Previously, the powers-that-be wanted to deposit the proceeds of a Minneapolis sales tax into a separate stadium authority in order to avoid the requirement of a public vote that, given the current mood of the populace, most likely would fail. Now, the plan is to redirect existing hospitality taxes that currently fund the city’s convention center, according to Eric Roper of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Supporters of the maneuver say that it’s merely a shifting of existing taxes. Mayor R.T. Ryback (pictured) says that voters can express any displeasure with that plan by voting him out of office.
But this thing won’t get brushed under the rug quite so easily. Already, a majority of the members of the Minneapolis City Council believe that a public vote on the proposal is required. So, for starters, one of them will have to be persuaded otherwise.
Even then, any adult member of the Minneapolis public — represented by a lawyer who’d crave the free publicity that would come from spearheading the effort — can file suit to force a vote. And then the lawsuit would be heard at multiple levels by judges who ultimately are accountable to the voters, too. Eventually, Page and company would get the case.
Without studying the language of the Minneapolis charter in detail (I soon will), it seems like a stretch to simply flip the switch on an existing tax and claim that the money harvested from business activities occurring in Minneapolis don’t amount to investment in a sports facility.
And so, basically, the folks in Arden Hills shouldn’t make other plans for that big piece of land just yet. And the folks who are trying to build a new NFL stadium in Los Angeles shouldn’t cross the Vikings off the list.