SBJ/Sept. 23-29, 2013/Finance

Vikings pick three banks for stadium financing

The trio of banks that managed the San Francisco 49ers’ stadium financing will do so for the Minnesota Vikings, as well, finance sources said.

The Vikings will seek to borrow up to $250 million using Goldman Sachs, U.S. Bank and Bank of America as lead lenders, the sources said.

Goldman Sachs, U.S. Bank and Bank of America will be lead lenders on the 65,000-seat stadium, set to open in 2016.
Image by: HKS
The Vikings declined to comment.

The 49ers borrowed close to $1 billion for their Santa Clara, Calif., stadium opening next year, and the financing has been a huge success based on the large number of banks involved in that loan syndication.

It is not unusual for one bank to be involved in the top financing of different venues, but it is somewhat unusual to see the same three banks work together to bid and win business for such high-profile stadium financings.

Recently, local Minnesota authorities have questioned and investigated whether the Vikings and their owners, the Wilf family, could afford their commitments to the new venue after the Wilfs lost a bitter court case in New Jersey that could expose them to a large damage bill. The investigation found they could afford it, though little of their own equity will go to the new stadium. The coming bank debt, combined with the $200 million the NFL approved in March for the team under the league’s stadium financing program, would largely account for the $477 million the club is obligated to spend for the $975 million project. Of the remaining $498 million, $348 million will come from the state of Minnesota and $150 million from Minneapolis.

Hiring banks is not normally a sensitive subject, but while Steve Poppen, the Vikings chief financial officer, and Mark Wilf, the team president, each called back when contacted about the financing hires, neither would comment in any way on whether the club was moving forward now in financing the stadium.

The three financial institutions did not reply for comment.

The 1.6 million-square-foot stadium is scheduled to open in 2016 and seat 65,000. It would be capable of expanding to 73,000 if it was selected to host a Super Bowl.

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