On Thursday, Governor Mark Dayton, publicly requested that the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority re-evaluate the stadium deal that was brokered with Vikings owner, Zygi Wilf. But, within the same breath Dayton reassures Minnesota taxpayers that there is no need to revise the states Vikings stadium bill. Dayton’s request is based on a lawsuit ruling from a New Jersey Judge. Judge Deanne Wilson determined that Wilf and his family members committed fraud with their real-estate business. The lawsuit focused on the ownership of a 764-apartment complex, located in Montville, New Jersey.
The plaintiffs stated that they were cheated out of their share of profits through “…organized-crime-type activities…” and inaccurate bookkeeping by Wilf & Co. Wilson stated during her ruling that “The bad faith and evil motive were demonstrated in the testimony of Zygi Wilf.”. It’s important to know that the incident that the lawsuit is based on took place 21-years-ago. It was also the longest running lawsuit in the states history and had four different judges. Wilson even postponed her retirement so that she could make the final ruling.
It’s just far away from the kind of standard we have for business here in Minnesota. It’s very distressing. I would urge the board to have its legal counsel assure them and the people of Minnesota that all the representations made by the team and its owners are truthful and accurate,” said Dayton to Star Tribune reporters.
Dayton has been a strong supporter of the new Viking stadium, which has a price tag of a whopping $975 million. Legislators and Dayton inked a deal for the new Vikings stadium in May of last year. The financing legislation for the new Viking stadium states that Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis will pay $498 million of the construction costs. The state already has plans to sell taxpayer-backed bonds, in order to be able to pay this large amount. The Vikings are going to pay the remaining $477 million by taking out an NFL loan, selling the stadium naming rights, obtaining sponsorships and milking season ticket holders by charging them seat licensing fees.
This isn’t the first time that the new Vikings stadium deal has been scrutinized. A lot of the controversy has been focused around the funding plans for the stadium. Last year, Dayton sent an angry letter to Wilf, stating that the state would back out of the deal because of surveys that the team was sending to season ticket holders. The purpose of the Vikings survey was to see how keen season ticket holders would be to paying thousands of dollars for personal seat licenses, which would guarantee them the best seats in the new stadium. At the beginning of this year, it was also made obvious that Dayton’s plan to generate the states part of the tab via electronic pull-tab and bingo games had backfired. Dayton and Legislature’s have now resorted to obtaining the revenue via increased cigarette taxes and monies obtained from closing corporate tax loopholes.
The Vikings new stadium is scheduled to hopefully open for the NFL season of 2016.