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Open-door lawsuit involving new Westfield soccer stadium dismissed

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) —  A Hamilton County judge was expected to rule Wednesday on a lawsuit that has slowed down plans for a major addition to the new Grand Park in Westfield.

On Wednesday afternoon a city spokesperson said the open-door lawsuit was dismissed.

Last year, the Westfield City Council passed a plan for a multi-million dollar indoor soccer stadium, to be built at the new Grand Park.

Members say that would make the park a year-round facility.

A city spokesperson said leaders had hoped to start the process toward building already, and had hoped to open the new indoor stadium before this winter, but the process was held up by two open-door lawsuits filed against the city.

The lawsuits, filed by a mayoral candidate, claim council members met behind closed doors to do business.

A city spokesperson says those were informational meetings. No decisions were made, and she said they don’t believe they were violating any open-door statutes.

Nonetheless, the city held another public meeting on the new facility in February, where some citizens expressed concern that taxpayers would be on the hook for the project, which is expected to cost nearly $53 million over a 25-year lease.

A city spokesperson told 24-Hour News 8 there will be no cost to taxpayers, at least for the next ten years. That’s because the city says there are two sub-lease agreements put in place by City Council to gain revenue: one with Jonathan Byrd’s, a restaurant that will be inside the stadium, and another with Indiana Sports Properties.

The open-door lawsuit was set for a bench trial Wednesday morning,but was later dismissed.

The administration is pleased with the dismissal.

“The state law is intended to prevent citizens from filing challenges based on possible open-door violations as a last minute stall tactic, which is why it requires a complaint to be filed within 30 days of the alleged violation.” said Judge Paul Felix at Monday’s bench trial.

A city spokesperson says although the project did already pass the council, they started the process over in order to have that latest public hearing.

They’re now waiting for the judicial process to play out before putting the project back on the council agenda.