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Investigation shows “indications” Wilfs have financial resources for stadium

Charley Shaw//September 4, 2013

Investigation shows “indications” Wilfs have financial resources for stadium

Charley Shaw//September 4, 2013

Michele Kelm-Helgen frames her role as chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority as that of “chief communicator.” Much of her time thus far has been spent meeting with and speaking to public and neighborhood groups to discuss various aspects of the Viking stadium project. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)
Michele Kelm-Helgen (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

The head of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority issued a statement Wednesday saying the owners of the Minnesota Vikings appear to have the financial resources to make good on paying for the team’s share of a new NFL stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, the MSFA’s chairwoman, said in a release that a law firm and forensic accounting firm hired by the authority to conduct due diligence on team owners Mark and Zygi Wilf have acquired most of the information they need. Kelm-Helgen said that “based on the information received to date, we have indications that the Team will have the financial capability to move forward with the stadium project.”

State lawmakers in 2012 passed legislation to build the $975 million stadium, which will be paid for by the state, the city of Minneapolis and the team. The stadium is supposed to break ground this fall. But Gov. Mark Dayton ordered the MSFA to pursue the investigation of the Wilfs after a New Jersey judge found they had committed breach of contract, fraud and had violated that state’s civil racketeering laws in a 21-year-old apartment development dispute. Damages in the case are expected to be awarded later this month.

The investigation has disrupted the talks between the team and the authority on reaching development and use agreements for the stadium. The agreements will establish the terms of the team’s lease and financing for the stadium.

Today’s MSFA meeting was closed because attorney-client privileged information was discussed. Kelm-Helgen said the final report, at least a portion of which will be made public, will be completed soon. “The report will detail our due diligence process and provide findings to the Authority. We expect this report to be finalized next week,” Kelm-Helgen said.

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