Stadium Group Taps Dorsey & Whitney To Investigate Wilfs

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said key stadium agreements have been postponed as a “due diligence” financial review of the Vikings’ owners is conducted.

Shortly after Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he was “deeply concerned” about a recent court ruling against Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf and his family, the group charged with overseeing the $975 million stadium project has selected a team to review the Wilfs' legal troubles.

And now, key decisions regarding the stadium construction appear to be on hold.

A judge recently ruled that the Wilfs violated a civil racketeering law in an apartment development deal, closing a drawn-out civil case in New Jersey.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), announced this week that the MSFA will conduct “due diligence concerning the New Jersey litigation and its potential impact on their financial contribution to the new stadium.”

The MSFA said it hired Peter Carter, co-chair of the securities litigation and enforcement practice of Minneapolis-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney, to oversee the due diligence review. Carter has conducted financial reviews for a number of Fortune 250 companies, the MSFA said.

Dorsey & Whitney will work alongside FTI Consulting, an international forensic accounting firm that will “perform a thorough financial due diligence review,” the MSFA added. “FTI provides financial forensics related to accounting and financial reporting, regulatory scrutiny and anti-corruption inquiries.”

The team will examine the New Jersey litigation and other cases related to the Wilfs, “perform extensive background checks,” review the NFL’s investigations of owner applications, and examine financial matters, according to the MSFA.

While the investigation is underway, the MSFA said its board will not consider the final remaining project contracts on August 23, as originally planned; the signing of those agreements will be postponed until a future meeting that has yet to be scheduled.

“We do not expect this to affect the overall project timeline, as progress continues between the Minnesota Vikings and the MSFA,” Kelm-Helgen said in a statement.

The turnaround time for the review will take “weeks, not months,” and should not delay plans for an October groundbreaking on the stadium, Kelm-Helgen told the Star Tribune. The team hopes to open the stadium in time for the 2016 NFL season.