Vikings owners ensure lawsuit will not impact stadium

Published 12:38 am Friday, August 9, 2013

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Vikings owners on Thursday downplayed recent legal woes amid Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s call for steps to ensure integrity of the team’s stadium deal.

A judge ruled this week that Wilf family committed fraud, breach of contract and civil racketeering case stemming from an apartment development in New Jersey. Mark and Zygi Wilf issued a statement insisting their civil lawsuit troubles back home won’t affect a guarantee of $477 million in private financing toward the nearly $1 billion stadium.

“The Vikings have spoken with Governor Dayton’s representatives and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and have assured all parties that this civil lawsuit will have absolutely no impact on the stadium project,” the Wilf brothers said. They said they have apprised the NFL of the ongoing legal proceedings.

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Their statement came after Dayton’s commented on the ruling, which hinged on inaccurate and untruthful financial statements.

“Those practices are far from the legal standards for doing business in Minnesota,” Dayton said in calling upon the stadium authority to “have its legal counsel assure them and the people of Minnesota that all of the representations made by the team and its owners are truthful and accurate.”

The Wilfs won approval last year for the taxpayer-aided football stadium, with the state picking up almost $350 of the tab. The authority is hammering out final contract details with Vikings owners before construction starts.

Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said NFL executives have assured her that team and league financial commitments will be upheld. She said the board would vote at an Aug. 23 meeting on a lease and other aspects of the private end of the financing plan. As part of that process, she said the authority will lay out an audit and oversight process related to the Vikings share of the project.