The city of Minneapolis doesn't have the authority to ban the use of the "Redskins" nickname when Washington's NFL team plays the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium in a few weeks, the city attorney said Wednesday.
Officials at the city and the University of Minnesota have been exploring various options to prevent the Redskins nickname from being used at the stadium during the game on Nov. 2, because many believe it's racist and offensive to Native Americans.
But Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said Wednesday Minneapolis has no jurisdiction over speech on property owned by the university because the school is a state — not a municipal — entity, MPR News reports.
The Vikings are playing their home games at TCF Bank Stadium at the U of M for the next two seasons while their new stadium is under construction.
The U of M has also been working with the Vikings to limit or ban the Redskins name and logo, but it may not have much success, either.
U of M President Eric Kaler has condemned the nickname as offensive, and has asked that it not be used in the stadium. But Kaler says the university’s facility-use agreement does not allow the school to dictate who the Vikings play or how they use the name.
David Glass, president of the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media (NCARSM), which is based in Minneapolis, said he has suggested to the Vikings that Native Americans be involved in the pre-game or halftime show, the Washington Post reported recently.
“While we take this issue seriously — it’s a significant issue in our state and our community, and we’re sensitive to the concerns raised — we’re also obligated to market the game,” Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley told the Washington Post recently.
The Vikings are paying the university $300,000 per game to lease the stadium.
The university announced earlier this month it will hold several days of programs to increase awareness of racial stereotyping ahead of the game.
Regardless of the outcome of those discussions, opponents of the nickname are planning what they hope will be the biggest protest yet against the nickname on the morning of the game.
The NCARSM is organizing the protest, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Tribal Nations Plaza at the stadium, according to the group’s Facebook event.
Last year, when the Vikings hosted the Redskins, more than 700 people protested outside the Metrodome.
Washington team owner Daniel Snyder has said he will never change the name, which he contends honors Native Americans.
The nickname issue has been the subject of protests in other NFL cities, but it has touched a particular nerve in Minnesota for a variety of reasons: Minnesota has a substantial Native American population compared to other NFL cities -- about 100,000 Native American residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau; November is Native American Heritage Month; and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community donated $10 million toward the new football stadium, which has a plaza honoring Minnesota's 11 tribes.