Vikings Stadium Agreement Hits Snag As Group Looks Into Wilfs' Legal Woes
Final approval of key development agreements for the Vikings' new stadium "has been put on hold to allow the state to conduct a more extensive background investigation" into team Owner Zygi Wilf and his family in light of their recent legal issues in New Jersey, according to Richard Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority yesterday said that it has "retained Peter Carter of the Dorsey & Whitney law firm to lead a 'due diligence' review" of Wilf and his family's real estate business. Carter has "tried cases involving racketeering and performed similar investigations for some of the nation’s largest firms." The review group, which also will "include FTC Consulting, an international forensic accounting firm, will scrutinize Wilf family litigation in New Jersey and perform 'extensive background checks' as well as review the NFL's investigations of owner applications." The Vikings and the MSFA had "hoped to sign off" on a stadium lease and development agreements at the authority's Aug. 23 meeting. But MSFA Chair Michelle Kelm-Helgen said that final action will "likely be at a special meeting at a later date." However, she said that the "turnaround time for the review will take 'weeks, not months,' and should not delay plans for an October groundbreaking on the stadium." The team hopes to open the stadium in time for the '16 season, but Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley "expressed concern about the project's tight timeline." He said that he "hoped the authority would continue to work on design and construction issues while the review work takes place" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/14). The Wilfs said the lawsuit would have "absolutely no impact on the stadium project." Kelm-Helgen said that the review group also will look into "other lawsuits involving the Wilfs" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/14).
IN HINDSIGHT: In Minneapolis, Lee Schafer writes under the header, "Wilfs May Rue How They Treated N.J. Partner." The Wilf family "defending that lawsuit in New Jersey to its hugely expensive and bitter conclusion probably cost them the opportunity to step into the developer's role with the Minneapolis stadium" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/14).