Vikings deliver Wilf financial data to stadium authority
- Blog Post by: Richard Meryhew
- August 27, 2013 - 8:33 PM
Days after a public squabble over access to the financial records of Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, team representatives delivered some of that information Tuesday to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, the authority chairwoman, said that attorneys and representatives for both sides planned to meet well into Tuesday night to review the financial data.
"Getting all that information is a very positive thing," she said.
The authority's additional scrutiny of the Wilfs' finances was triggered by a New Jersey judge's ruling earlier this month that the Wilfs had committed fraud and breach of contract in a real estate deal in that state.
The authority, the public board overseeing development of the team's $975 million downtown Minneapolis stadium, ordered the deeper background check to make sure the court case, which could cost the Wilfs tens of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages, wouldn't hurt the team's ability to help finance stadium construction.
The Vikings are responsible for $477 million of the construction cost, with the state of Minnesota and city of Minneapolis picking up the rest.
Tensions over the "due-dilgence" work bubbled up Friday, however, when an attorney with Dorsey & Whitney who is leading the probe, issued a statement saying that despite repeated requests, the Wilfs had to date "refused to provide us with any personal financial information that our advisors need to obtain comfort that the New Jersey court case will not impact their ability to meet their financial obligations."
The statement followed comments by Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs, who had said the team was cooperating fully with the review and delivering the requested information.
Bagley said Tuesday that the team had previously shared financial data through a major bank. He said the paperwork provided Tuesday involved financial data "directly from the Wilfs."
"Today was progress," Bagley said.
What affect that "progress" will have on stadium negotiations and the construction timeline is unclear.
Late last week, the Vikings stopped negotiating with the authority on important stadium lease and development agreements until the due-diligence work is finished. Those agreements must be approved before the team secures all of its financing and the state issues taxpayer-backed bonds to pay for its share of the project.
Kelm-Helgen has said that if the team doesn't return to the negotiating table soon, stadium construction could be delayed by a month or more.
Project groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for early November. The team and authority hope to open the stadium by July 2016.
Bagley said Tuesday that he believes the project is "still on time and on budget. We still feel like everything is on track."
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