Reporting Pat Kessler
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The owners of the Minnesota Vikings got a clean bill of health Friday from state investigators.
That’s the official result of a financial review of Mark and Zygi Wilf by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA).
The Vikings owners had been under fire for weeks after a New Jersey court found them guilty of fraud in an unrelated real estate lawsuit.
The Vikings said all along that team owners had the ability to cover their share of the new stadium.
The official report confirms it.
“We have reviewed all of the facts concerning the Wilfs financing and litigation, and with assurances from the NFL we have addressed the risks we have found,” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, the chair of the MSFA. ”I feel confident moving forward with the construction of the new stadium.”
The investigation went deep into the Wilfs’ personal lives, with criminal background checks, New Jersey court records and the Wilfs’ personal net worth.
The bottom line is that the Vikings owners have significant wealth, and plenty of money to pay for a stadium.
“Based on the significant holdings that the Wilfs have, they are able to meet their obligations under the stadium agreements,” said Peter Carter, the lead investigator from the Minneapolis law firm of Dorsey & Whitney.
The Wilfs are facing tens of millions of dollars in penalties from the New Jersey court case, which investigators say will have no bearing on the stadium.
The NFL also provided a guarantee in a letter to the state officials, saying “it has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to the Twin Cities… including a substantial financial commitment to the stadium.”
With the state investigation complete, the officials in charge of the new stadium’s construction say the team is back at the table negotiating final agreements.
Kelm-Helgen also says the stadium is back on schedule.
“We certainly hit a rough spot along the way, but our work with the Vikings has been very positive and I believe it will continue to be so,” she said.
Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs, Lester Bagley, said the stadium is “on track, on budget and on time.”
The Vikings also provided this statement:
The results of the due diligence inquiry are consistent with the team’s prior statements on this matter – the Vikings and the Wilf family have the financial ability to meet the private commitments to the stadium project. This report, combined with the NFL’s unwavering support, make that clear. We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to create thousands of jobs, generate significant economic development and deliver a great stadium for Vikings fans and the people of Minnesota.
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