The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

August 15, 2013

Our View: Don't just hand off stadium OK

Why It Matters: The owners of the Minnesota Vikings were found to have committed fraud and other civil violations in a New Jersey real estate deal.

(Continued)

In the case of Target Field, it was the Twins who controlled construction, and the Pohlad family, according to the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, ultimately put an additional $65 million into the project.

There is considerably more public money being devoted to the Vikings stadium (the public financing is greater than the entire cost of Target Field), justified by the state’s interest in using the facility for non-NFL purposes (such as college baseball in the chill of early spring). Given the New Jersey ruling, it would be prudent to ensure that the state isn’t burdened with runover costs. It is also necessary to protect the intended non-NFL use.

That’s not an easy needle to thread, but the New Jersey case establishes that it would be rank foolishness to blindly trust the Wilfs to do the right thing. If they played hardball to the point of fraud with their partners there, why assume they wouldn’t do the same here?

Other views on this topic:

“The judge’s decision means the stadium authority’s legal counsel and their financial advisors need to renew their due diligence and really go back and review the representations made by the team and the owners. It’s very distressing.”

— Gov. Mark Dayton

“The civil lawsuit will have absolutely no impact on the stadium project. The Vikings guarantee of $477 million in private financing has gone through two years of review and due diligence by our public partners...The Funding is secure.”

— statement by Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf

What we have been reminded of in the New Jersey lawsuit is that the Wilf family didn’t accumulate its wealth by winning the Powerball. Hardball is their game. The Wilfs are real-estate developers in one of the most bare-knuckled markets in the country. They are canny dealmakers — and in this case deal-breakers — and Minnesota is now their partner in an important and expensive real-estate project.

— Star Tribune editorial board

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