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Vikings Dispute Claims Team Owners Want End To Investigation

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More drama over the new Vikings stadium. Team owners again Monday refused a request to return to the stadium bargaining table.

The Sports Commission overseeing construction says team lawyers are now providing partial information about the team owner’s personal finances. But says the team again turned down a request to come back to the table.

The Vikings strongly dispute claims that team owners are pressuring the state to end its investigation into their finances.

But the chairwoman overseeing new stadium construction said that’s exactly what team owner Mark Wilf told her.

“And he very clearly stated that they continue to refuse to talk with us about the lease or the financing agreement until we end our due diligence,” said Michele Kelm Helgen, of the MN Sports Facilities Authority.

The state is investigating whether team owners Mark and Zygi Wilf have the money necessary to fulfill their $477 million stadium pledge, after losing an unrelated New Jersey real estate lawsuit that could cost them tens of millions of dollars.

The team says it has cooperated fully with the state’s inquiry, a claim investigators say is “not true.”

Only this weekend, Kelm Helgen said, did a Vikings lawyer agree to provide a partial account of the Wilf’s personal finances.

“So we are cautiously optimistic that we will get some of the information that we have been waiting for the last couple of weeks,” she said.

Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley denies any team effort to stop the probe by boycotting stadium talks.

“We are not saying end it,” Bagley said. “We are saying complete it in a timely and efficient manner.”

The Vikings say they have provided detailed net worth and financial liquidity information through US Bank, and are preparing to release more.

Any delay could put off the start of the team’s 2016 pre-season games, and possibly the 2016 NFL opener.

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