Wilfs will be able to finance their share of stadium, report finds

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 13, 2013 - 10:41 PM

Even with the “potential future issue,” Vikings owners can pay for share of new stadium, official says.

hide

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

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview largerrr

 

Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf have more than enough money to pay for their share of their team’s new stadium, even if a New Jersey judge orders them to pay hefty punitive damages in a bitter real estate case, a top stadium official said Friday.

But an extensive, monthlong background check into the Wilfs’ legal and financial affairs by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority identified “one potential future issue,” which won’t affect the stadium’s construction timeline but could keep the Wilfs entangled in court for years to come.

Under New Jersey law, any civil case that results in punitive damages must be referred to the state attorney general and local prosecutor’s office to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the authority, the public board overseeing the nearly $1 billion stadium project, said Friday that “we have no idea what the timing would be if those things would happen.”

But, she added, in a worst-case scenario, the NFL has indicated that it will stand behind the project, even if the league required a change in team ownership.

“Right now, we feel real comfortable that we can move forward,” Kelm-Helgen said. “Everything” on the background check of the Wilfs “has come back very clean.”

Groundbreaking on the $975 million stadium, which is expected to replace the Metrodome in time for the 2016 NFL season, is tentatively scheduled for early November.

The authority, at the urging of Gov. Mark Dayton, the leading supporter of the stadium, ordered the more thorough “due-diligence” review released Friday after a New Jersey judge ruled last month that the Wilfs defrauded business partners in a large real estate transaction there.

At the time, Judge Deanne Wilson was highly critical of the Wilfs’ business practices, saying at one point that Zygi Wilf’s own testimony in the 21-year-old case had exhibited “bad faith and evil motive.” She also said “I do not believe I have seen one single financial statement that is true and accurate.”

Wilson is expected to award compensatory and punitive damages — which could be substantial — later this month.

She also has ruled that the Wilf family’s net worth should be public but has given lawyers for the family 20 days to appeal that decision.

Attorney backs authority

Peter Carter, an attorney with Dorsey & Whitney who oversaw the due-diligence audit, repeated Friday what Kelm-Helgen told reporters last week after meeting with Carter and his team — that even in a “worst-case” scenario, such as tens of millions of dollars or more in punitive damages, the Wilfs’ “significant” financial holdings indicate they have the clout to pay for their share of the stadium.

The Wilfs, the Vikings and the NFL have said repeatedly that the lawsuit will have no bearing on the team’s ability to finance the stadium.

The Vikings are responsible for $477 million of the $975 million construction cost, with $200 million of that coming from an NFL loan. The state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis are paying for the rest.

In a statement Friday, the Vikings said Dorsey’s findings are “consistent” with the team’s previous statements on the issue. “This report, combined with the NFL’s unwavering support, make that clear,” it said.

The report included a copy of a letter from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who indicated again that the league “strongly supports this project.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: P. Maholm 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 12
San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos 9 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Manship 6
Texas - LP: N. Tepesch 1 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: J. Francis 2
Boston - LP: J. Peavy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 7
Miami - WP: J. Turner 6 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 5
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 6
Cincinnati - LP: S. LeCure 3 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: F. Rodriguez 4
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 8 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: Y. Pino 2
Kansas City - WP: B. Chen 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 2
Washington - WP: C. Stammen 7 FINAL
Colorado - LP: B. Brown 4
Detroit - LP: P. Coke 4 FINAL
Arizona - WP: E. De La Rosa 5
Houston - WP: D. Downs 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: F. Abad 2
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 4 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: M. Morin 2
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 1
Calgary 7/24/14 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Winnipeg 7/25/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Tulsa 93 FINAL
San Antonio 95
Atlanta 108 FINAL
Minnesota 112
Indiana 57 FINAL
Chicago 60
Phoenix 89 FINAL
Seattle 71
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
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close