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Legal challenge postpones stadium bond sale; delay could disrupt timeline

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A $468 million bond sale to finance part of the new Vikings stadium will not take place as planned on Monday and Tuesday, the Star Tribune reports.

The newspaper says a legal challenge filed on Friday led state budget and stadium officials to postpone the bond sale. If it's not resolved soon, the court action could push back the opening of a new stadium by a year, the chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said.

Friday's challenge came from former Minneapolis mayoral candidate Doug Mann. Mann tells the Associated Press the bond sale is unconstitutional because the city should have held a referendum before committing sales tax revenue to repaying the bonds.

Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said at a press conference that the Sports Facilities Authority is counting on proceeds from the bond sale to pay $28 million in bills that will come due at the end of this month, the AP reports. That includes money for architects and contractors who have already put work into the project. According to reports, Kelm-Helgen cited Jan. 23 as the date by which bond sale revenue would be needed to avoid delays.

Minnesota Public Radio reports Mann lost a similar legal challenge last year. Minnesota Management and Budget chairman Jim Schowalter tells MPR that even though the legal issue has already been dealt with, a consultation with the attorney general's office led to the decision to put off the bond sale. Schowalter characterized that as a day-to-day decision and not a long-term delay.

Former Minneapolis School Board member David Tilsen joined Mann and his wife, Linda Mann, if filing the legal petition.

Construction of the new Vikings stadium and the adjacent Downtown East project have bogged down over several legal issues. Late last year, there were reports that the sale of bonds for Downtown East was delayed when constuction estimates came in $10 to $20 million higher than expected.

Later this week, power is scheduled to be cut off to the Metrodome and the venerable stadium's roof would then begin to deflate. Then the dome's structure will be dismantled piece by piece. The new $1 billion stadium will be built on the current site of the Metrodome; demolition has already begun. The Vikings plan to play two football seasons at TCF Bank stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.

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