SBD/August 12, 2013/Franchises

Wilfs' Legal Issues Could Jeopardize Public Funding For Vikings' New Stadium

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s “harsh review” of the legal issues surrounding Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf and others in his family is “igniting fresh concerns about the state’s agreement with them and threatens to complicate” the team's new downtown stadium project, according to Ragsdale & Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The "sudden blowup is emerging" as Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority board members and team officials are "finalizing a critical menu of details, such as who will control stadium construction, pay for cost overruns and set terms for the seat licensing deals for fans." All details "must be worked out over the next two weeks, before the state sells taxpayer-backed bonds to pay its share." MSFA board member Duane Benson said, “Everybody is on high alert that this is going to be looked at under a fine microscope. The governor is not going to, nor are we going to, treat this lightly. A lot of legislators will be watching this very closely, as well we should." Dayton on Friday said of the Wilfs' lawsuit, "The judge’s decision means the stadium authority’s legal counsel and their financial advisers need to renew their due diligence and really go back and review the representations made by the team and by the owners. It’s very distressing.” Ragsdale & Meryhew noted the Wilfs and the NFL are “working to assure the state that the project is on track.” The Wilfs are asserting that the legal troubles "have no bearing on the stadium agreement or their ability to fulfill their financial commitment.” Some lawmakers, who were “already skeptical that the state drove a hard enough bargain, are renewing calls for state leaders to walk away -- or at least take time to cool off and take a tougher look at the stadium agreement” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/11).
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