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Court ruling allows Vikings stadium finance to proceed

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ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court this afternoon tossed out a lawsuit challenging the financing of a new Vikings stadium, averting a situation that Gov. Mark Dayton said could have stopped construction.

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Justices dismissed the suit that sought to prohibit the state from selling bonds to finance the downtown Minneapolis stadium. Earlier today, Dayton said that if the high court did not rule immediately, that dreams of stadium construct could be “destroyed.”

Officials of the commission overseeing the stadium said a decision would have had to be made by Thursday to prevent the two-year construction timetable from collapsing and delaying completion for a year.

Doug and Linda Mann and David Tilsen of Minneapolis claimed that the state and city's funding mechanism was illegal.

In a short ruling, justices said that state law does not give them original jurisdiction in the case, so Tilsen and the Manns should have filed their action with a lower court.

The lawsuit filed earlier this month came days before the state was to sell bonds to cover the state and Minneapolis portions of construction costs. That sale was immediately delayed until the issue could be worked out.

“If the financing is delayed by a matter of days, the whole thing could collapse,” Dayton told reporters at the Capitol before the court ruling. "And if it collapses, I don't know how you put it back together."

The stadium is a $975 million facility to be located on the site of the Metrodome, which is being torn down. The new stadium is to open in time for the 2016 National Football League season, with the Vikings playing at the University of Minnesota stadium in the meantime.

Minnesota Management and Budget and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing the project, asked the court to dismiss the suit quickly because delays could drive up the costs or delay the scheduled 2016 opening of the stadium.

Dayton said the situation was even more urgent. “This project could be destroyed if this isn't resolved,” he said.

Authority officials have said they need $17 million from bond proceeds by Thursday and another $8 million on Friday to close on land purchases for the project.

Bill Salisbury of the St. Paul Pioneer Press contributed to this story.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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