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Minneapolis council vote will go forward on Downtown East deal

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Former Minneapolis city council member Paul Ostrow and mayoral candidate Stephanie Woodruff went to court today to try to block a proposed $400 million development deal near the new Vikings stadium. They said it represented an improper subsidy to the stadium and the Vikings (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)

The city of Minneapolis and critics of the $400 million stadium district development traded arguments in Hennepin County District Court for an hour and a half this morning, but it doesn't look like a planned vote on the deal will be stopped.

Former city council president Paul Ostrow argued before judge Mel Dickstein this morning, asking the him to stop the city from approving a $65 million bond sale the city is using to finance the deal.

But Ostrow conceded it's likely to win approval tomorrow, perhaps unanimously. "We're not trying to keep the council from voting," he said after the hearing in Minneapolis.

Ostrow told the judge that state law limited the city's contribution to the entire stadium project to $150 million, and that the deal for a parking ramp near the stadium exceeded that cap. He also said that the city and its port authority didn't have the authority to acquire and run a proposed "Urban Park." He told the judge that's up to the Minneapolis Park Board.

Assistant Minneapolis city attorney Peter Ginder said the decision was a political matter, and it wasn't up to the courts to decide what a legislative body should and shouldn't vote on. He also told the judge that Ryan's option to purchase key parts of the real estate for the project from the Star Tribune expires on Dec. 27, and the city was simply exercising its legal right to redevelop a "marginal" area of the city.

City officials urged the judge not to block the deal, even temporarily. "This whole thing can and may fall apart because of delay," city attorney Susan Segal told Dickstein.

She said the judge has told the both parties that he hopes to issue a ruling on the matter early next week.