The Minnesota Vikings said Friday there is "no point" in negotiating the user and development agreements for a new stadium while the state agency responsible for it is conducting an investigation of the team's owners.
"Until the authority has the confidence in our organization there's no point in moving forward with negotiations," said Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs and stadium development.
His comment came a short time after Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said at a public meeting that the team broke off talks Thursday on the critical agreements while the agency investigates the finance of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.
The agency launched the probe after Wilf and his brother Mark were found guilty earlier this month of defrauding partners in a New Jersey apartment complex development, part of a ruling in a 21-year-old civil case. A decision on penalties and damages in that case could emerge from a New Jersey court later today.
Kelm-Helgen added the tight construction deadline for the $975 million Vikings stadium may be in peril.This could push all the deadlines back, possibly causing cost overruns borne by the public.
The stadium in downtown Minneapolis is supposed to open in July 2016, with construction beginning Nov. 7.
Bagley said, "We remain confident that the stadium project will be completed as planned and on schedule."
"The MSFA needs to be fully confident in our ability to deliver financially," he said. "Right now, until their due diligence is complete, they do not have that confidence. Their inquiry is having a negative impact on negotiations."
Bagley said the team and project have "had a good week" and "made great progress on the construction front."
But he added that the team believes it is best to negotiate "these fundamental partnership agreements when we are at the table as partners."