Dayton reserving judgment on Vikings' ability to pay

Governor says he wants to see final audit on the Wilfs finances.

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Governor Mark Dayton

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Gov. Mark Dayton said he was encouraged by the early word that the Minnesota Vikings owners had the finances to pay for their portion of the new football stadium in Minneapolis but was not satisfied yet.

After learning that an independent audit to be released soon shows that the Vikings can pay their share of the stadium, Dayton said Thursday that he found that encouraging, but said, “I want to reserve my final comment until I see the final analysis.”

The Star Tribune reported Thursday that Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said that even if a civil judgment in New Jersey turns against Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf, the team still appears to have the capacity to pay its share. Last year, the state and the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay $498 million for a new football stadium and the Vikings and the NFL agreed to pay $477 million, with the team responsible for $277 million of that.

Dayton began expressing serious concern about the Wilfs’ business wherewithal last month, after a New Jersey civil court judge ruled they had violated civil racketeering laws in connection with a real estate deal. The governor said he wanted an “absolute, airtight guarantee” that the team owners had the power to pay for their portion.

While Kelm-Helgen said she spoke to Mark Wilf about the next steps on Wednesday, Dayton and the Wilfs have not spoken at all even as the storm of attention surrounded the stadium deal, the governor said.

“I have not talked to [the] Wilfs since all of this began,” he said Thursday.

 

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • 651-292-0164

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