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Stadium official says probe of Vikings finances must continue

Posted by: Jim Ragsdale under Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota legislature Updated: August 26, 2013 - 11:38 AM

The chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is trying to put a new Vikings stadium project back on track, said a probe into the team's finances and liabilities must continue to assure the public the team can hold up its end of the deal.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, in an interview on Minnesota Public Radio, said the Authority's study into the team's finances, known as "due diligence," is a necessary part of the final negotiations with the team.

"We're clearly not going to stop the due-diligence until we have the information we need to assure the public," Kelm-Helgen said.

The Authority and the team, owned by the Wilf family, are at odds over the due-diligence probe. It was launched when a New Jersey judge found that the family committed fraud and breach of contract in a separate real-estate deal.

The team has broken off negotiations over use and development contracts until the probe is finished, and the lawyer conducting the review for the Authority said the team has not been cooperating.

Kelm-Helgen said the probe is "related to the team's ability to perform, specifically to meet their financial requirements to fund their portion of the stadium." The probe will look at potential damages from the current lawsuit, as well as any others that the family may face.

""Then they'll look at the financial strengths of the Wilfs and the Vikings organization, and make sure that those things can be covered," she said.

The Vikings are responsible for $477 million of the $975 million stadium, which is to be located on the site of the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. The rest is to be paid by the state and city of Minneapolis. At last week's board meeting, members were concerned that the current dispute could delay the project, which is to be finished by July 1, 2016.

Kelm-Helgen said she is confident that the stadium will be built. If there is "something uncovered" during the probe, she said, she is confident the National Football League will continue to back the project.

"The NFL has definitely assured us that they want to move forward with this project," she said. "They want to keep an NFL team in this area. If something were to happen, there are ways the NFL would move forward.....

"That I think adds some reassurance to us that one way or another the project will go forward. The NFL is very clear their commitment is going forward."

 

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