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Judge Hears Arguments Over Vikings Stadium Funding

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- More questions about funding for the nearly billion-dollar Vikings Stadium came to light on Tuesday at the State Capitol.

Last week, a judge found Vikings owner Zygi Wilf guilty of defrauding business partners out of $51 million some 20 years ago.

The problems are raising concerns in Minnesota that Vikings stadium construction won't be able to break ground come October.

The state legislature already decided the Minneapolis City Council could use local sales tax dollars to the tune of $150 million toward the stadium.

Local Green Party mayoral candidate Doug Mann is asking a Hennepin County judge to put the portion taxpayers are funding to a public vote.

It was a tense morning in the courtroom as detailed legal terms and conditions were argued. The judge heard both sides of the argument before a room of Mann's supporters.

The city argued that when they passed a stadium bill in 2012, lawmakers amended the state constitution to override the portion of the city charter that calls for a referendum for this instance.

Mann, a nurse representing himself in this suit, had some trouble at times articulating his argument. Ultimately, the judge decided to give Mann one more week to bring forth any supplemental arguments. Mann said he isn't giving up. The city maintains they followed the law.

"This is important to me because I want our public officials to follow the law and it involves the imposition of taxes," he said.

"The requirement of local approval for local taxes by the legislature is the whole issue in this case, because that permits, once the city council approves that, removed any requirement to hold a referendum on local sales tax," said Peter Ginder, deputy city attoney.

The judge will make a final written ruling next week.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority says the NFL assures them the league is committed to building this stadium. But with the owners' troubles and this new suit, there could be big problems.

The sports authority will release an audit trying to answer those questions on Friday.

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