The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority filed a response today to a developer’s lawsuit seeking to terminate the authority’s rights to a parcel in front of the stadium envisioned as a public plaza and an expanded light-rail train station.
Minneapolis Venture, which is led by developer Bob Lux of downtown-based Alatus, is in a dispute with the authority over the value of the property.
According to the authority’s chair Michele Kelm-Helgen, Minneapolis Venture obtained a reduced assessment of $4.5 million for the parcel in 2011. Recently, however, it has sent the authority a letter indicating it believes the property is worth between $24 to $26 million.
A public plaza use agreement was signed by a previous owner of the property and a commission that has since become the authority in 2003, allowing it to be used for stadium activities, Kelm-Helgen said. When Minneapolis Ventured purchased the property in 2007 the use agreement was a condition of the deal through 2013.
“There was clearly an extension clause if the stadium continued to be used as a sport site,” she said.
Kelm-Helgen said Minneapolis Venture is not asking for a fair price for the land.
“As stewards of public funds, we could never pay this inflated asking price,” she said. “It’s not a reasonable price.”
Jon Austin, a spokeman for Minneapolis Venture, issued the following statement this afternoon:
"The Sports Facilities Authority's answer demonstrates why we've asked for the assistance of the court in this matter: in the space of a few short pages, they manage to stake a nonexistent claim to our property by implying that even though we own the land we cannot use it, to falsely assert that we have some unwritten obligation to agree to any terms they think appropriate and to demand — without any basis in fact, contractual language or law — that we dedicate our land to be used by the Vikings and the MSFA without compensation. Beyond their admission that our agreement will expire on its own terms this October, something we've been asking them to deal with for the last six weeks by submitting a proposal for a new agreement, we're disappointed at this continued 'cake-and-eat-it-too' approach. Given our experience over the last several months, however, we aren't terribly surprised."
In the statement about the lawsuit, the authority also included images of a proposed Minneapolis Venture development on the site.