Stadium authority hires watchdog to look over deal with Vikings

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, left, and Gov. Mark Dayton, right, shake hands after a news conference in January 2012. (MPR File Photo/Jennifer Simonson)

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority says it is hiring a Dorsey & Whitney attorney to do what Gov. Mark Dayton has asked: to double-check the details on the deal the state is about to sign with the Vikings for a new $1 billion stadium.

The governor said last week he was “deeply concerned” about the state’s deal with the Vikings, after a New Jersey judge ruled against Zygi, Mark and Leonard Wilf in a New Jersey real estate dispute, unrelated to Minnesota or the Vikings.

The judge said the Wilfs had committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and violated New Jersey’s civil racketeering law. Dayton expanded on his criticism on Friday, saying he thought the Vikings “snuck” personal seat licenses into deal. It’s a key part of the Vikings plan to finance their $477 million dollar share of the deal, although they haven’t yet disclosed how much they plan to charge fans.

Here’s what the authority said in a release this afternoon:

“The MSFA has retained Peter W. Carter, the co-Chair of the Securities Litigation & Enforcement practice of Dorsey & Whitney to head a group that will conduct the due diligence review. Peter Carter is a senior litigator and has tried RICO cases and performed litigation due diligence for a number of Fortune 250 companies.”

They’re also hiring FTI Consulting, a forensic accounting firm that does “accounting and financial reporting, regulatory scrutiny and anti-corruption inquiries.”

Their to-do list:

  • Perform due diligence on the New Jersey litigation
  • Review other Wilf and Wilf related litigation
  • Perform extensive background checks
  • Review the NFL owner application due diligence
  • FTI to perform financial due diligence

Dayton, who prompted the review, said he was satisfied with the plan: “It looks to me like a very top notch group of people, very experienced, to give us the reassurance that we need and deserve that this has all been represented above board.”

The MSFA also said that it is delaying the approval of the Use and Development agreements that are in the works between the MSFA and the Vikings. They were scheduled to sign off on the deal — essentially the long-term stadium lease — in just 10 days. The additional background work will take more time, the MSFA says. It’s not expected to delay the overall project, which is scheduled to break ground this fall.