Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf's recent purchase of a $19 million Manhattan apartment doesn't bother Gov. Mark Dayton, who has emerged as a powerful ally in the team's push for a stadium subsidy.
Dayton said Wednesday that Wilf's private affairs shouldn't factor into the heated debate over public stadium financing at the state Capitol. The Vikings are seeking public money for more than half the cost of a new football stadium.
"Being an owner of a sports team it makes you a public figure, but he's not a public official. He's a private citizen. What he does with the wealth he's accumulated is his decision," Dayton said. "This is not about the Wilf family. It's about the Minnesota Vikings. This is about several thousand jobs to clear the site and build a facility."
Wilf is a New Jersey real-estate developer who, along with some partners, bought the Vikings in 2005. He took over a stadium drive already years under way. Published reports last week revealed Wilf's purchase of the luxury apartment in New York.
At a public hearing Tuesday on stadium financing options, some stadium opponents unfavorably contrasted the big-buck personal purchase with the Vikings' state request.
The Vikings have declined comment on what they regard as a personal matter.
Dayton said he spoke to Wilf last Thursday about the stadium issue and planned to check in with him this week. The governor said the apartment purchase didn't come up on the prior call.
The team's pursuit of a new stadium is likely to spill into next year. Dayton said he favors expanding charitable gambling in bars and restaurants but hasn't ruled out other financing approaches. He remains neutral about whether the stadium gets built in Minneapolis or the suburban Arden Hills site.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)