Vikings stadium official: Wilfs can pay their share

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2013 - 10:19 PM

Vikings stadium project doesn’t need to wait for a New Jersey court ruling because the family has the “financial capability,” the chairwoman says.

hide

Mark and Zygi Wilf.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

A key stadium official Wednesday tentatively cleared the way for work to proceed on the Minnesota Vikings’ new home, dismissing fears that a New Jersey lawsuit could imperil the team’s ability to foot its share of the $975 million construction bill.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said that even in a “worst-case” scenario involving a judge awarding tens of millions of dollars in punitive damages, Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf appear to have the “financial capability” to pay for their share of the stadium building cost.

She also said that the public board overseeing the development doesn’t need to wait for a judge’s ruling later this month to move forward with the project.

“It looks like even with the court case that they will have the wherewithal to meet all their obligations on the stadium,” Kelm-Helgen said after a nearly two-hour, closed-door authority meeting with attorneys, who updated board members on their extensive legal and financial background check of the Wilfs.

Vikings go back to the table

The Vikings issued a statement later in the day saying they were “pleased” the project was moving forward. They did not address the Wilfs’ finances but indicated team officials will return to the negotiating table to hammer out important lease and development agreements with the authority, deals that must be finalized before team financing can be arranged and construction begins.

The team walked away from those negotiations shortly after the authority launched the deeper background review and said it wouldn’t return until the probe was complete. Within days, Kelm-Helgen publicly expressed concerns that the impasse could delay construction by as much as a month.

The stadium, to be built on the Metrodome site, is tentatively scheduled to open in July 2016.

Kelm-Helgen said that she was more “confident” as of Wednesday that construction will stay on schedule “as long as the use and development agreements get done by mid-September.”

She said Mark Wilf called her Wednesday to say that team officials “were willing to come back to the table” to resume talks on both.

“There is a lot of work to be done,” she said. “But we have the agreements in pretty good shape from our perspective, so hopefully that all goes well.”

Stadium groundbreaking, which will take place east of the Dome, is tentatively set for early November.

NFL is pleased

The authority asked for the more extensive legal and financial “due-diligence” check of the Wilfs after a New Jersey judge ruled last month that they had defrauded partners in a real estate deal in that state.

The judge, who was highly critical of the family’s business practices, is expected to award damages in the case later this month. Those damages could cost the Wilfs tens of millions of dollars or more, which initially raised concerns about their ability to finance the new stadium.

The Vikings are responsible for $477 million of the construction cost, with the state of Minnesota and city of Minneapolis picking up the rest. The team’s portion will come from a $200 million NFL loan and revenue generated by the sale of personal seat licenses to season-ticket holders, stadium naming rights, other sponsorships and team equity.

That revenue could be substantial, prompting critics of the stadium deal to question just how much financial exposure the Wilfs and the team have.

  • How much of the $975 million

    will the Wilfs have to pay?

    The new Vikings stadium is expected to cost $975 million, and exactly how much of that is coming out of the Wilf family accounts is to be determined. But a breakdown can shed some light on how much of the cost burden will fall elsewhere:

    Stadium

    total cost: $975 million

    State and city cost:

    $498 million

    Vikings and NFL costs:

    $477 million

    $200 million: NFL loan

    $277 million: Vikings

    Paying for the remaining $277 million ...

    • Personal seat license fees. In other words, fans buying seats.

    • A naming rights deal for the stadium. Recent stadium naming rights have been sold for between $220 million (San Francisco and Levi Strauss & Co.) and $400 million (New York’s MetLife Stadium).

    • All sorts of sponsorship deals, such as signage and advertising.

    ... And the remainder, if any ...

    • Will be covered by “team equity” — a k a the Wilf family.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta - LP: A. Wood 0 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: A. Bastardo 1
Cleveland - LP: D. Salazar 5 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 7
Toronto - LP: R. Dickey 0 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson 7
Seattle - LP: J. Beimel 6 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 8
Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu 2 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: M. Bumgarner 1
Colorado - WP: F. Morales 3 FINAL
San Diego - LP: I. Kennedy 1
St. Louis 8 FINAL
Washington 0
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 11
NY Yankees 10 Top 9th Inning
Tampa Bay 2
Toronto 5 Bottom 8th Inning
Minnesota 4
Boston 1 Bottom 7th Inning
Chicago WSox 1
Kansas City 5 Top 8th Inning
Houston 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Chicago 3 3rd Prd 12:43
St. Louis 2
Minnesota 1 1st Prd 2:31
Colorado 1
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will you boo Jared Allen when he returns with the Bears?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close