MINNEAPOLIS - There could be a delay of at least a month in the construction and opening of the new Vikings Stadium after the Vikings take a step back from final negotiations.
The Minneapolis Sports Facilities Authority chair made the announcement Friday at the Metrodome.
The MSFA has been waiting for a due diligence report on the finances of the Wilf family. A New Jersey judge ruled against the Wilfs in a 20-year-old real estate lawsuit, giving Gov. Mark Dayton and the Authority some concern about the Wilfs' ability to fund the Vikings share of the $477 million project.
"The New Jersey lawsuit, regardless of the outcome, has absolutely no impact on the Wilfs' ability to finance this project," insisted Vikings Vice President of Public Relations Lester Bagley. "This due diligence inquiry is having a negative impact on the negotiations of those fundamental documents."
The Vikings stopped negotiations on use and development agreements with the Authority on Thursday until the due diligence report is finished.
"We are negotiating fundamental partnership agreements," said Bagley. "And this is the use agreement which governs the Vikings' use of this facility for the next 30 years plus. It is the development agreement which governs the construction process. It is extremely difficult to negotiate partnership agreements when you are not sitting at the table as partners."
"We need to stay on schedule for many different reasons," countered Michele Kelm-Helgen, Chair of the MSFA. "If we do not start (negotiating), we are going to have at least a month delay and this will affect everything."
Kelm-Helgen said a delay in negotiating until the due diligence report is finished by Sept. 15 would cause a delay in construction and the planned opening of the new stadium on July 1, 2016.
She did say that a month-delay, while adding "many complexities" would probably not raise the cost of the construction. She also insisted that the Authority and Vikings are not at an impasse and the stadium would be built.
"I tell you," said Kelm-Helgen, "while there are significant issues outstanding, none of them are the type of issues that could not be resolved. Ironically, it has been the team that has been very clear with us that their lending institutions are requiring those agreements to be substantially finished."
However, Bagley denied that banks are balking.
"Both the NFL and the banks have said unequivocally that the Wilfs have the financial wherewithal to finance this project."
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