Minnesota Gov. Not Ready To Pull Plug On Vikings Stadium Deal
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton yesterday said that he "is not ready to pull the plug" yet on the Vikings' $975M stadium deal with the state, according to a front-page piece by Salisbury & Murphy of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. However, he said the ruling against Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf's family in a civil suit in New Jersey has "certainly undermined my confidence in their veracity." He said that the "fate of the stadium will depend on the outcome" of a background investigation by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, and added that an audit "will determine whether the Wilfs' fraudulent business practices in that case is an exception or the rule." Dayton: "I reserve judgment on that question -- Is this part of a broader pattern, or is this an aberration? -- until after we've had that comprehensive review." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that the league would "move forward with the $200 million loan it guaranteed to help finance" the team's investment $477M investment in the project (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/15). MSFA Chair Michelle Kelm-Helgen yesterday said that while the body will pick up the normal costs of the background check for the Wilfs in advance of a stadium deal, the family will "be charged" with "any additional investigative work" that stems from their recent legal troubles. She said the Vikings "haven't agreed" to the terms of the billing yet (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/15).
NFL TO CLOSE RANKS AROUND WILFS? In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman writes he expects NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to "make a trip here soon to assure everybody that the multibillion dollar NFL operation will stand behind the Vikings owners." The Wilfs believe that they "will pass the MSFA’s review and progress will resume on building the stadium." They also believe that once the review is done, it will "show the lawsuit has nothing to do with their financial ability to provide the money they have guaranteed to build the stadium." Hartman: "Believe me, NFL owners won’t allow the Vikings stadium to go down the drain." Meanwhile, the delay of getting started on construction could "hold up the hiring of a building operator by the Vikings and the MSFA" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/15).