Minnesota Governor Questions Wilfs' Stewardship Of Vikings In Wake Of Civil Suit
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton questioned Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf and his family's "business ethics Thursday and urged a review to ensure that team’s commitments" to its new $975M stadium "are 'truthful and accurate,'" according to a front-page piece by Ragsdale & Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Dayton's comments come after a New Jersey judge ruled Wilf and his family’s real-estate business "committed fraud, breach of contract and violated the state’s civil racketeering statute in a two-decade-old real estate deal." The lawsuit "began long before the Wilfs purchased the Vikings in 2005." However, Dayton said that it raised "serious questions about the state’s own dealings with them as they edge toward the Aug. 23 signing of the final agreement for the new $1 billion stadium." The team says that the lawsuit has "nothing to do with the family’s ownership of the Vikings or the stadium deal with the state and the city of Minneapolis." Dayton did not accuse the Wilfs of "any questionable dealings with him or the Legislature." But he said, "It’s just far away from the kind of standard we have for business here in Minnesota. It’s very distressing." Ragsdale & Meryhew report stadium financing legislation "calls for the state of Minnesota and city of Minneapolis to pay" for $498M of the $975M construction cost. The Vikings would "pick up the remaining $477 million through an NFL loan, stadium naming rights, sponsorships and seat licensing fees." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy on Thursday in an e-mail wrote that the outcome of the Wilfs' civil case will "have no bearing on the team’s standing or the NFL’s commitment to the stadium project" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/9).
DETAILS ON STADIUM PLAN: In St. Paul, Salisbury & Goessling in a front-page piece note the state "has agreed to provide" $348M for the stadium, while Minneapolis "has promised" $150M. The Vikings "plan to begin playing in the enclosed 65,000-seat stadium in 2016 on the Metrodome site in Minneapolis." Work is "expected to begin on the project this fall" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/9).