SBD/September 16, 2013/Franchises

Audit Finds Vikings Owners Are Financially Sound Despite New Jersey Civil Suit

Mark Wilf (l) and Zygi Wilf (r) are still entangled in a civil suit in New Jersey
Minnesota Sports Facilities Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen on Friday said that Vikings Owners Mark and Zygi 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," according to Richard Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. But an "extensive, monthlong background check into the Wilfs’ legal and financial affairs" by the MSFA "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." Any civil case in New Jersey 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." Kelm-Helgen said that "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." Groundbreaking on the $975M stadium is "tentatively scheduled for early November." Dorsey & Whitney attorney Peter Carter, whose firm oversaw the MSFA's due-diligence audit of the Wilfs, said that the 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" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/14).
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