Hartman: Expect NFL to back Wilfs in stadium snag

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 15, 2013 - 12:03 AM

The Vikings owners are confident a lawsuit judgment and a review of their business won’t hinder progress.

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Vikings owner Zygi Wilf (left) and team vice president Lester Bagley.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune file

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I have to believe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has talked to Gov. Mark Dayton about a lawsuit against the Wilf family by former business partners over an apartment project in New Jersey.

And I expect Goodell will make a trip here soon to assure everybody that the multibillion dollar NFL operation will stand behind the Vikings owners.

Goodell also will assure local politicians and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority — who are calling the shots on everything connected with the building of the new Vikings stadium — that once the due diligence review of the Wilf family’s real estate business led by Peter Carter of the Dorsey & Whitney law firm is complete, final negotiations on a stadium agreement can proceed.

I spent a good part of Friday’s preseason game in the Wilfs’ suite, and they refused to go into detail about their legal issues, but they believe they will pass the MSFA’s review and progress will resume on building the stadium.

Furthermore, because of my friendship with late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the fact that some of the Wilf family hold stock in the Yankees, I’ve gotten to know Zygi and Mark Wilf well.

While I am not a psychologist, I have watched the two brothers go crazy when a Vikings player makes a mistake or the team lost a game, and they didn’t seem the least bit concerned about the investigation. They believe once the review is done, it will show the lawsuit has nothing to do with their financial ability to provide the money they have guaranteed to build the stadium.

Believe me, NFL owners won’t allow the Vikings stadium to go down the drain. Once it is in operation, the Wilfs and all the other owners will make a lot of money.

Progress held up

Meanwhile, the delay of getting started on construction could hold up the hiring of a building operator by the Vikings and the MSFA.

According to Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development: “It will be a third-party operator whose responsibility it will be to run the facility on game day and keep it up, keep it clean, and do all the work that you need to do to operate an NFL facility. It’ll also be used on [potential NCAA] Final Fours and all the other events for the public. We’re a couple months away from probably hiring that building operator.

“It’s more likely going to be a company. There are several companies that do that type of work. It’ll be like SMG, they’re a company that does this, AEG is a company that runs the Target Center, that’s a likely candidate for the job, but we haven’t got there yet. We have a lot of work on our plate before we get there.

“It’ll be one general manager but they have staff. It’s a company that will come in. I don’t know what the budget will be.”

More replays for MLB?

Look for Major League Baseball owners to vote Thursday in favor of a new replay system. Managers would be able to call for a replay of controversial umpire calls, except for balls and strikes.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig assigned former major league managers Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre, who work in the MLB office, to present a plan to the owners Wednesday that will allow for replays on more than only home runs. If the owners approve it, MLB would begin negotiating between the Players Association and the umpire’s union on the plan, which possibly could be implemented by the start of the 2014 season.

Burton’s season

Twins reliever Jared Burton has had stretches of the season where he has been great, and a stretch where he has been awful. That inconsistency resembles the Twins’ season.

Burton started the season posting a 2.03 ERA in 26⅔ innings from April 3 to June 4. He had 28 strikeouts to only 10 walks and was holding hitters to a .204 average.

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