Wilf deal to park Dome dirt solves stadium dilemma – for a tidy sum

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2014 - 10:59 PM
hide

The Wilfs won’t pay property tax on lots while the stadium dirt is stored there.

Photo: Marlin Levison • mlevison@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The new Minnesota Vikings stadium project ran into a problem late last year: Where to store the unexpected amounts of reusable dirt from the soon-to-be demolished Metrodome.

The obvious solution: Three nearby parking lots owned by the Wilf family, the Vikings owners.

Officials said the deal could save as much as $1 million in construction costs, but also concede that it included a potential PR headache: the Wilfs, who were already getting significant public subsidies for the new stadium, won’t have to pay property taxes on the former parking lots while the dirt is stored there.

“I knew that this would obviously attract attention,” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, the chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. She was correct — the deal has drawn concern from two state legislators.

As public officials raced to sign leases with the Wilfs in December and January to store a series of 20-foot-high piles of dirt, internal documents show they were mindful of the perception that the Wilfs might be seen by critics as taking advantage of the situation. Both the sports facilities authority and the Vikings insist the opposite is true, and that the Wilfs are in fact saving the $1 billion project substantial money.

The lease arrangements are complicated, but the deal is relatively straightforward: In return for storing the dirt on the Wilfs’ adjoining land, the sports facilities authority is paying the property taxes, about $90,000. The stadium authority also agreed to pay any cost being charged the Wilfs — in the end there were none — for terminating their parking contracts.

In the case of two of the parking lots — the Wilfs own each property under a different corporate name — the stadium authority is paying 264/365ths of the land’s 2014 property taxes.

“The Wilfs [are] not being paid. We’re being made whole,” said Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president for public affairs and stadium development. Bagley said the Wilfs did not volunteer to store the dirt for free because “we’re making significant investment into the project, and that investment continues to increase.”

The Vikings currently are committed to pay $477 million toward the stadium, although, the team is getting a loan from the National Football League and revenue from seat licenses and other sources that will substantially reduce the Wilfs’ own investment in the project.

Criticism of the deal

Kelm-Helgen said the stadium project is spending $2.1 million overall to haul dirt from the site to landfills. Instead of being taken to a landfill, the material stored on the adjacent Wilf property — about one third of all the excavated dirt — will be reused as fill for the new stadium.

It “seemed like an obvious, correct decision,” she said.

The decision to pay the Wilfs’ taxes brought criticism from Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, a longtime opponent of the public subsidies being used for the stadium. “In the big picture of things, yeah, it’s small potatoes,” Marty said after details of the lease were described to him. “But, I mean, do we have to give [Vikings owner Zygi Wilf] everything the guy ever wants?”

Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, agreed. “I think it’s a good deal, but it could be a better deal,” he said. Osmek said that paying the Wilfs’ property taxes “does seem to be nickel and diming” Minnesotans.

Kelm-Helgen acknowledged that, instead of asking whether the Wilfs would store the dirt for free, the stadium authority offered the tax deal.

Stadium officials also extended insurance coverage to the Wilf properties at no extra cost to the stadium authority — a move that internal e-mails suggested may have been taken to block the Wilfs from taking legal action should the dirt storage lead to problems. “If the Wilf family companies are now ‘insurers’, [they] technically can’t bring a claim against the” stadium authority for damages, wrote Kate Dodge, a senior executive for Willis Environmental Practice, an insurance broker for the stadium authority.

Documents and e-mails show that the Wilfs, while willing to help the project, were concerned with preserving their interests, including having no environmental liability under the plan. At one point, lawyers for the Wilfs wanted to make sure that sight lines for billboards on the parking lots were not blocked by the dirt piles. “Protecting the billboard revenue is important” to the Wilfs, said Thomas Bray, an attorney for the Vikings owners.

Bray also cautioned that the Wilfs were concerned that storing the dirt could lead to more than “ordinary wear and tear” on the property.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - M. Latos 6:05 PM
Baltimore - B. Norris
Boston - J. Kelly 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Detroit - K. Lobstein 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Penny
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
LA Angels - C. Wilson 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. Milone
Texas - D. Holland 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Pittsburgh - J. Locke 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Seattle - J. Paxton 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Washington - D. Fister 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Arizona - W. Miley 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix
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 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
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: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close