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

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

Dayton, who within days of the New Jersey ruling pushed the authority to do everything it could to get an “absolute, airtight guarantee” that the Wilfs had the financial wherewithal to meet their obligations, had no reaction Friday to the report. A spokesman, Matt Swenson, said the governor wanted to fully review it over the weekend before responding.

‘1000s of documents’

Carter said Friday that the due-diligence probe involved “15 to 20 professionals” who worked “around the clock” and “reviewed thousands of documents” involving the Wilfs.

Auditors and attorneys scrutinized the Wilfs’ personal financial records, the NFL’s background investigation of the team owners, “all civil litigation” involving the Wilf family and the underwriting files from the family’s primary lender — U.S. Bank.

Tax returns, property records and other documents were checked, too, along with all the transcripts and files of the New Jersey civil case.

“All the background checks came back absolutely clean,” Carter said, adding that other than the New Jersey case, “there were no other lawsuits that would have a material effect on the Wilfs’ ability to meet their obligations” on the stadium project.

The report indicated that the Wilfs “will likely” appeal Wilson’s ruling, potentially delaying by months, if not longer, any referral of the case to the attorney general or county prosecutors.

The stadium financing legislation approved in May 2012 required the authority to make sure all private funding sources for the project are “adequate to design, construct, furnish and equip the stadium.”

It also dictated that “any financial information” it obtained related to the team or its owners remain confidential. Financial details of the audit were not released.

Before stadium groundbreaking takes place, the Vikings and the authority must complete negotiations on use and development agreements, which will dictate terms of the team’s lease to how revenue is split and how much season-ticket holders pay for seat licenses.

The Vikings walked away from those talks several weeks ago after Kelm-Helgen said that the authority planned to bill the team and the Wilfs for the additional due-diligence work. That, in turn, prompted Kelm-Helgen to express concerns that construction could be delayed by a month or more.

The Vikings returned to negotiations earlier this week as the review wrapped up.

Kelm-Helgen said she hopes the authority can vote on the agreements at its Sept. 27 meeting, in time for the team to close out its financing by November, just before construction begins.

Meanwhile, she said the team still has not agreed to pay for the additional legal and financial scrutiny into the team’s owners.

Staff writer Jim Ragsdale contributed to this report.

Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425


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