Minnesota official asks court to toss stadium bond case
Jan 14 (Reuters) - Minnesota's budget commissioner on Tuesday asked the state supreme court to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to derail a bond sale to help fund a new stadium for the National Football League's Vikings.
Jim Schowalter, who heads the state's department of management and budget, said the lawsuit filed on Friday came at the "eleventh hour" and forced postponement of a planned sale this week of $468 million of bonds.
Minnesota residents opposed to construction of the new domed stadium, which will mainly serve the Minnesota Vikings, raised concerns that the legislation enacted in 2012 for the project violated the state's constitution.
"The filing of this lawsuit places a material cloud over the bond sale by creating doubt regarding the issuance of the bonds, such that they are not reasonably marketable," Schowalter said in a court filing.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which will own and operate the 65,000-seat stadium in Minneapolis, on Monday asked the state supreme court to dismiss the lawsuit and order the residents who brought it to post a nearly $50 million bond.
None of the residents was immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the authority to intervene in the case and set a Thursday deadline for all parties to submit filings on whether the court has jurisdiction in the case and if the petition filed by the residents can validly halt the bond sale.
The stadium has been scheduled to open by the start of the 2016 NFL season. It is planned to replace the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, where the Vikings have played since 1982. Workers are already removing seats from the Metrodome.
Officials have said a long delay in resolving the lawsuit could jeopardize the construction schedule and increase the cost of the project, which had been estimated at $975 million.
The publicly owned stadium also would host other events, including state high school football and soccer championships, amateur sports and concerts.
Payments on the tax-exempt and taxable bonds rely on continuing appropriations, which can be stopped or altered by the Minnesota Legislature.
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