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Wilf’s $19 million Manhattan co-op could hurt stadium effort

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With the Minnesota Vikings generating not much interest this season via their on-field efforts, the off-field push for a new stadium has provided plenty of intrigue.

The latest chapter comes courtesy of owner Zygi Wilf, who while trying to pry some $700 million from public coffers guarded by a reluctant pack of politicians has purchased a $19 million co-op on Park Avenue, in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

According to Jim Ragsdale of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the acquisition came to light on the same day that Vikings officials were participating in a Senate Taxes Committee hearing regarding the stadium funding drive.

The prior owners of the co-op reportedly were victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.  And that’s perhaps fitting, since plenty of Minnesotans believe that they’re becoming the victims of a similar pyramid scam, in which money from the folks at the bottom rolls up to the benefit of someone who already has plenty of it.

While we (or at least I) continue to believe that very good reasons exist for the contribution of public funds to the construction of a venue that provides a wide range of benefits to the local populace, we (or at least I) believe that the multimillionaires who would profit from such arrangements should demonstrate a little more discretion when making big-ticket purchases while the effort is still pending.

Said the Vikings regarding the situation:  “That’s a personal family issue that is not related to the Minnesota Vikings.”

That apples-and-oranges dismissal of the potential P.R. nightmare brings to mind one of my favorite jokes from David Letterman.  Taking his late-night NBC show to Las Vegas for a full week in the 1980s, Letterman said during a monologue that he was approached on the street by a man who asked for cash because his wife needs an operation.  Said Letterman to the man, “How do I know you’re not going to use this money for gambling?”

The man responded, “Oh, I’ve got gambling money.”

Regardless of the impact that this purchase has on the team’s ability to get a new stadium built in Minnesota, it’s safe to say that Wilf has no choice but to pay 34 cents on the dollar for any of the remaining non-premium tickets for Sunday’s home game against the Broncos.  The game needs to be televised locally, and Wilf needs to do something that will persuade the folks whom he wants to be generous with their money that he is capable of being generous with his.

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64 Responses to “Wilf’s $19 million Manhattan co-op could hurt stadium effort”
  1. nyyjetsknicks says: Dec 1, 2011 8:34 AM

    Can you blame him? Where you rather live? Greatest city in the world or some flyover state?

  2. jimmysee says: Dec 1, 2011 8:39 AM

    With a big public contribution on the horizon for a stadium, with ticket, parking, concession, and even tailgate spaces priced out of reach for many people, hardly seems fair, then, to black out home games that do not sell out.

  3. bcjim says: Dec 1, 2011 8:41 AM

    Sure, who woulnt want to live shoehorned in to a hellhole with 15 million other people.

  4. yzguy431 says: Dec 1, 2011 8:45 AM

    so if you are going to bilk the public, be discreet about it? right.

  5. wheresmyjuice says: Dec 1, 2011 8:47 AM

    A $19 million dollar co-op is a big ticket purchase for a dude who owns an NFL team. That’s like me going to the movies.

  6. clonefan says: Dec 1, 2011 8:48 AM

    I’ll take MPLS/ST Paul over NYC any day……

  7. i3addog says: Dec 1, 2011 8:49 AM

    Again, the tax payer provides the capital so an already rich man can get even richer. Look how much the previous owner made off this team . He paid around 250 million and sold them for 600 million six years later.

    Complete and total BS that the tax payers should foot most of the bill so millionaires and billionaires have a place to work.

  8. jimmysee says: Dec 1, 2011 8:54 AM

    bcjim says:
    Dec 1, 2011 8:41 AM

    Sure, who woulnt want to live shoehorned in to a hellhole with 15 million other people.

    ————————————————————-

    Many ways to described New York City — “hellhole” doesn’t make the list.

    Lived there nearly 20 years.

    It’s Disneyland for adults.

    Greatest city in the world.

    A town so nice they named it twice!

    Wilf is a longtime resident.

  9. nyyjetsknicks says: Dec 1, 2011 8:54 AM

    bcjim says:
    Dec 1, 2011 8:41 AM
    Sure, who woulnt want to live shoehorned in to a hellhole with 15 million other people.

     _______________

    Got to love the failures from flyover states. Lol. There’s a reason why Manhattan real estate cost what it does.

  10. kosarkid says: Dec 1, 2011 8:57 AM

    And the rich get richer

  11. axespray says: Dec 1, 2011 8:58 AM

    Zygi to viking fans: “You Mad brahs?”

  12. nfloracle says: Dec 1, 2011 8:59 AM

    These 1%’ers living high on the hog on tax payer money sure like to rub it in, don’t they?

  13. gmen5280 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:00 AM

    This is a perfect parellel to what I witnessed this weekend. While at the grocery store there was a woman in front of me talking to the checker about using here food stamp money. As I walk out I see the same women getting into a new Hummer parked next to my car.

    We need to stop subsidizing companies. Either you stand on your own or you fail.

  14. txxxchief says: Dec 1, 2011 9:00 AM

    Those Minnesotans continue to comically flail about. If they don’t want the team, just let the Vikings go. Mr. Wilf’s purchase of the property for his personal use or as an investment is really no one else’s business. This is a prime example of media/anti-business/anti-capitalist character assassination.

  15. greenbayraven says: Dec 1, 2011 9:02 AM

    “Complete and total BS that the tax payers should foot most of the bill so millionaires and billionaires have a place to work.”

    its called leverage, he owns an NFL team, every city in the country would like to have one. Not saying its fair, but life isnt fair. Never has been

  16. tecmobowl34 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:04 AM

    bcjim says: Dec 1, 2011 8:41 AM

    Sure, who woulnt want to live shoehorned in to a hellhole with 15 million other people.

    =============================

    the upper east side of manhattan is a hellhole? only someone from the twin cities (and likely has never left the twin cities) would ever say that

  17. jerrykill4pres says: Dec 1, 2011 9:10 AM

    I said this on the Star Trib, but as usual, my comments never seem to get posted there, or stay up very long. Stadium proponents report them as inappropriate, and they get taken down.

    But here’s what we know. Zygmunt bought a 19m dollar place. Big deal. We also know that since 2006? The housing market has declined. If anyone looks at their taxable market value on their property taxes over the past few years, your valuation on your property has been dropping. I know mine has. Also, this place, the previous owner was a victim in a ponzi scheme. So, did Zygmunt buy this property for pennies on the dollar as a real estate investment? We don’t know that. The paper doesn’t report it. We don’t know if he bought it for 19m, and plans to sell it when the market does start to turn around. We don’t know if he bought it because the previous owner owed way to much on it, or couldn’t afford it anymore. We don’t know any of the details. So rather than everyone here in MN jump on his butt, why don’t we wait a bit for details to come out. Then decide. We have to remember Zygmunt is a real estate mogul. He buys, sells, develops. So how do we know he didn’t buy this to resell? Everyone jumps to conclusions……

  18. thebigkahuna23 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:11 AM

    Nobody wants to build the stadium because they’re afraid the Vikings are going to leave the city anyways. How’s about you show some commitment to Minneapolis before expecting them to build you a stadium.

  19. gergie1957 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:11 AM

    Let’s see, so a guy that deals in high priced real estate for a living, purchased some high priced real estate. I don’t understand the premise of the story.
    Now if he was losing money on these purchases, I’d be concerned.

  20. zappa69 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:14 AM

    No one complains when the owner of the Green Bay Packers buys a new double-wide. Why is this different?

  21. dohpey28 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:15 AM

    Wow, what a complete non-story. Sounds like some people in Minnesota have big inferiority complexes.

  22. clivus63 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:20 AM

    All I want to know is…
    After all this shakes out, will any of this $$$ be used to teach the Vikes defense how to tackle???

  23. cliffcla says: Dec 1, 2011 9:22 AM

    Ziggy is an Investor and land developer. Purchasing land at reasonable prices is what he does. Can you really blame him for doing his job? Is he asking no more for this stadium than most other NFL owners have asked for? If you want to rip on anyone, rip on former owner Red McCombs he bought the franchise for $250 million, raped every ounce of profit out of the organization, then sold it for more than double. Leaving only the shell of a Football team remaining.

  24. cliffcla says: Dec 1, 2011 9:23 AM

    I see I was a day late and a dollar short on my previous post. But my point stands.

  25. mashoaf says: Dec 1, 2011 9:26 AM

    Sounds like what the owners of the Sonics did. Not necessarily buying property in NY, but not making a real effort to build a stadium so that the team can move.

  26. jerrykill4pres says: Dec 1, 2011 9:28 AM

    nyyjetsknicks says:
    Dec 1, 2011 8:34 AM
    Can you blame him? Where you rather live? Greatest city in the world or some flyover state?

    I’m pretty sure your the type of guy who said that with his mouth full of food that came from the midwestern “flyover” states.

    I’m pretty sure that part of the arrogance of people in new york comes from living so close to your neighbor, and having to smell his “BO” all day is part of the reason. The other part could just be all of the “fumes..” Either way, i’m glad i live in MN, and glad my neighboring states are WI, IA, ND, and SD…

    Another thing for you to remember. Your on a “football” board… Obviously “football” players have no problem living in “flyover” states. Super Bowl champs live in or around Green Bay. And if you’ve never been there, it’s not big. You won’t hear your neighbors toilet flush. And, the best part is. Anytime you drive to Green Bay, on “29″ there’s a bar every couple miles, where you can buy a beer for less than a weeks paycheck! Not like “new york!”

  27. bigjdve says: Dec 1, 2011 9:28 AM

    I don’t understand the problem here. The owner is asking the city to do what most other owners are doing. They are asking the city to help pay for a venue that they will use for more than just football games.

    Won’t they also own the stadium?

    Wlyf’s investment, that’s what it is, one way or the other he is investing to try and make money. Wouldn’t that help MN, because he is trying to make more money that could be used toward a stadium?

    If I were in his shoes, I would be after Minnesota to pay for that stadium to, that at least would show some commitment from the fans. I mean aren’t they being threatened with blackouts 1/2 the time? So since they say that want the Vikings to stay, shouldn’t they put their money where their mouths are?

  28. bradshawlives says: Dec 1, 2011 9:28 AM

    nyyjetsknicks – You miss the point. It’s not that he wants to live in NY. It’s the PR hit he’ll take for dropping 19 million at the same time he’s trying to get regular people to cough up money.

  29. hatesycophants says: Dec 1, 2011 9:32 AM

    Gergie and zappa,

    Hilarious!

    Go Lions! Go Badgers!

  30. realitypolice says: Dec 1, 2011 9:36 AM

    i3addog says:
    Dec 1, 2011 8:49 AM
    Again, the tax payer provides the capital so an already rich man can get even richer. Look how much the previous owner made off this team . He paid around 250 million and sold them for 600 million six years later.

    Complete and total BS that the tax payers should foot most of the bill so millionaires and billionaires have a place to work.
    =============================

    That is a completely reasonable and justifiable position to take.

    As long as you don’t take it a step too far, like many do, and also hold the position that you have some sort of right to a franchise in your state and that Wilf has some sort of obligation to keep the franchise he owns where you want him to keep it.

    You have the right to vote down taxpayer funds for a new stadium and he has a right to move to another city that offers him a better deal.

    Right?

  31. rhopperstad says: Dec 1, 2011 9:36 AM

    This is business you class warfare brain washed cry babies , if he wants to buy it it’s his damn business . Furthermore , you want him to contribute another 50 million ? Then let’s build it non union . He’ll save at LEAST that much and it will get done twice as fast . Quit your whining about achievers you envy and go back to your “occupy” tents or get a job .

  32. tazzard says: Dec 1, 2011 9:37 AM

    I would much rather live in a flyover state than an arm pit city like New York!

  33. deconjonesbitchslap says: Dec 1, 2011 9:42 AM

    don’t you dare compare people that oppose tax payer subsidized stadiums to the worthless, garbage occupy wall street movement.

  34. jredshoes says: Dec 1, 2011 9:43 AM

    Loved the food stamp story. Just trying to figure out how they were getting in a “new hummer” since they went out of business nearly 3 years ago.,,,

  35. lostsok says: Dec 1, 2011 9:47 AM

    Dual residency in NY and Minnesota? Ziggy should have his head examined. That’s like the worst of BOTH worlds.

  36. cjw1197 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:54 AM

    Wow, @nyyjetsknicks, you are classy. Regarding our “fly over state”, all I can say is at least the people that break their backs working here (i.e. farmers) produce something of substance, rather than a suit sitting in an office in front a screeen buying a bunch of futures contracts for things they never intend to take delivery on.

  37. mondzy805 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:55 AM

    Their gone. That gonna be, Team, number 2 to leave Minnesota for Los Angeles. Cant blame them. Not at all.

  38. hauts81 says: Dec 1, 2011 10:03 AM

    this story is just noise from people who were inclined to be against the stadium project to begin with. at the end of the day Zygi buying a fancy home will have no impact on whether a stadium deal gets passed or not.

  39. gb4mn0 says: Dec 1, 2011 10:04 AM

    It’s hilarious reading the now seemingly obligatory come to the defense of Ziggy excuses the worry wart lavender rubes post. They refuse to look at the reality of what Wilf is doing. He’s not looking for an reason to move the team, he’s looking for a reason why he should keep the team in MN. I wonder how many Wilf sycophants will still be worshiping at the Ziggy alter after he gives them the middle finger and moves? Of course the ones that are left leaning balls of excrement will wrongly blame it on the Tea Party.

  40. rugdog100 says: Dec 1, 2011 10:12 AM

    Mike — What an ugly and inaccurate article. Minnesotans feel like Wilf is pulling a Madoff style ponsey scheme? LOL! And get your figures straight; it’s not $700 Million they need as a public investment, it’s $575 Million, as they are investing $425 Million toward the $1 Billion project.

    BTW, as long as you’re an expert on this topic, how much money will the Vikings bring into the state of Minnesota with stadium construction jobs (and those employees taxes), stadium jobs, income taxes on the Wilfs, Viking players, other Vikings and stdium employees income? How much does the state stand to make from local businesses saless taxes, lodging taxes, income taxes from those businesses employees? What are those figures? I’ll be waiting to read your investigative story on the financial benefit to the state, county and city the new stadium is located in. I doubt we’ll see it anytime soon, if ever. Nice work…

  41. delsj says: Dec 1, 2011 10:15 AM

    Maybe part of the problem is that the 99% contains too much of the shallow end of the gene pool. Take the sign in the picture for example. The headline say “greedy billionaires”, and greedy is crossed out and replaced with needy.

    If you cross out greedy and replace it with needy, then you are saying they are needy, thus deserving of the tax break. Is that an attempt at irony?

  42. emma333 says: Dec 1, 2011 10:17 AM

    So buried at the end of this article is the fact that the Vikings will need an extension to avoid a blackout? With Tebow coming to town? Wow!
    Why am I not seeing all the hate filled comments that I usually see when directed toward Jacksonville? Personally, I hope the Vikings stay in Mn, I wish them well….

  43. das14 says: Dec 1, 2011 10:29 AM

    As jerrykill4pres stated. This is a bias story from a newspaper that can hardly be called that anymore. The star trib and MPLS have a vested interest and are throwing up all these roadblocks and bias stories to sway public opinion. They call themselves a newspaper. pff. They are not. It’s a power money game and most people don’t get what this is really about.

  44. jrmbadger says: Dec 1, 2011 10:32 AM

    Look, even as a Packer fan who wouldn’t mind the Vikings leaving town (as I would get to watch Packer games without having to get DirectTv), fact is that they are part of the local culture and part of the identity of Minnesota.

    The essential problem is that the state of Minnesota has a 5 billion dollar deficit right now. Yes, that’s right, 5 billion dollars. To balance the budget last year (during the government shut down) they borrowed money from the schools…. yes, they delayed payments to schools. The Republican legislature has refused to allow the governor to raise taxes to fix this mess. Basically, the state is in a huge financial mess.

    Zygi’s biggest problem is that he’s trying to squeeze blood from a stone – pretty hard to do. Of course he could finance the whole thing for himself, but then he couldn’t buy up ALL the land around it and develop that into Zygiville with shopping and the like (to make even more money).

  45. keeley2 says: Dec 1, 2011 10:41 AM

    dohpey28 says: Dec 1, 2011 9:15 AM

    Wow, what a complete non-story. Sounds like some people in Minnesota have big inferiority complexes.
    ____________

    No, it’s only the Vikings fans that have that disease.

  46. threedeep1998 says: Dec 1, 2011 10:45 AM

    ^^^ How can you call yourself a Packer fan? You want one of the oldest rivals to leave town?

    Wilf’s are living the dream. I’d kill to have my apt in MPLS and have a NYC joint. Bay Ridge Brooklyn = jam

  47. thetooloftools says: Dec 1, 2011 10:52 AM

    “That’s a personal family issue that is not related to the Minnesota Vikings.” Yes… when he spends millions of his own dollars on luxury it’s a “personal family issue” but when he’s shaking down taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s Vikings (whom he owns) business. See, in the current RECESSION, it’s not like tax dollars are not scarce enough in the current economic environment.

  48. nyyjetsknicks says: Dec 1, 2011 10:54 AM

    cjw1197 says:
    Dec 1, 2011 9:54 AM
    Wow, @nyyjetsknicks, you are classy. Regarding our “fly over state”, all I can say is at least the people that break their backs working here (i.e. farmers) produce something of substance, rather than a suit sitting in an office in front a screeen buying a bunch of futures contracts for things they never intend to take delivery on.

    _________________________

    Want to know why they’re farmers? I’ll give you a hint. No _ducation.

    Let’s see if you can figure that out.

  49. twesty85 says: Dec 1, 2011 11:04 AM

    @ bigjdve

    The vikings haven’t had nearly as big of a problem with blackouts as most NFL teams.

  50. glac1 says: Dec 1, 2011 11:14 AM

    Ziggy could care less about the Vikings. He want’s to develop the land around the stadium the people will build him and take the profits and run. The team is just a “tool” he has that will help him acquire more land to develop…

  51. davikes says: Dec 1, 2011 11:16 AM

    Maybe this is what some people needed to wake up and smell the coffee. Zygi can contribute a lot more than he has.

    The other news happening today is that MN is expecting up to a $1 billion budget deficit over the next two years. To resolve the last deficit, they borrowed from school funding. It’s going to get really tough to fund a stadium.

    If the Jags or someone else moves to LA first, the Vikes are going to play in MN in the Metrodome for a while longer. But I’ll bet Zygi tries to get to LA first.

  52. flashdeath says: Dec 1, 2011 11:17 AM

    Most football fans miss the point about stadium financing here in MN. There is no money for education, no money for social programs, and those of us who live in outstate can no longer depend on getting tax dollars back into our communities. There is no good reason to fun a playground for a guy who can pay his own way.

  53. fester986 says: Dec 1, 2011 11:29 AM

    @ Rugdog — The academic research has shown that stadium construction, especially football stadium construction with public subsidies tends to be a massive economic loser for the public that is subsidizing the construction.

    The proper analytical framework is to see how much new money will be brought into the region from outside the region due to the stadium being constructed AND how much money that is currently leaving the region will now be kept in the region due to the stadium being constructed.

    Most Vikings fans who spend money on Vikings football live in Minnesota, so if there is no stadium and no team, the vast majority of them will shift their current entertainment expenditure from the Vikings to some other Minnesota entertainment provider. A dollar shifted is not an economic benefit. The few Viking fans who fly/drive-in for every home game from out of the region are a net loss, as will be however many Vikings fans that fly out to LA to watch the LA Vikings play in 2014.

    But entertainment facilities are luxury goods that merely concentrate entertainment/discretionary dollars. And that is not a net economic gain for a region to subsidize.

  54. nyjalleffingday says: Dec 1, 2011 11:35 AM

    Being a fat hick is nothing to be proud of.

  55. tombradysponytail says: Dec 1, 2011 11:43 AM

    I’m starting to think that maybe it would be best for the Vikes to move out west. Just make a clean break of it and let everybody get a fresh start.

  56. cjw1197 says: Dec 1, 2011 11:44 AM

    @nyyjetsknicks – oh believe me, I have an education. I don’t need to pull up to Wall Street in my SL 500 and my $5000 suit to prove it like you do. Don’t let the mustard from the hot dog spill on your tie.

  57. jimmysee says: Dec 1, 2011 11:49 AM

    Attention MN legislative dimwits — your state is running a $1 billion deficit?

    Raise taxes.

    Or do tea party knuckleheads have you so wrapped around their fingers, or kissing their privileged behinds.

    When a household runs short, someone goes out and finds a part time job.

    When states do not have enough money for schools, hospitals, roads, infrastructure, social services, they raise taxes.

    And then contribute your part to build that stadium.

  58. theduuuuuuuuuude says: Dec 1, 2011 12:21 PM

    Who cares? Since when do we tell a man how to spend his money?

  59. vikesandravens78 says: Dec 1, 2011 12:50 PM

    The Star Tribune has it out for Zygi because he doesn’t want/plan to build a new Vikings stadium on the piece of property they offered as a potential site. They’re going to publish every move and transaction he makes in an attempt to villianize him. They even went so far as to name him “Turkey of the Year” on Thanksgiving. Truly an insult considering there were so many other people far more deserving of the title. The Star Tribune has been rather shameless in not hiding its bias.

    Wilf has been one of the best Vikings owners in terms of listening to the fans and bringing in big names, such as Jared Allen. The Star Tribune should recuse itself from covering Vikings stadium news as a conflict of interest.

  60. Gordon says: Dec 1, 2011 12:52 PM

    theduuuuuuuuuude
    Dec 1, 2011, 11:21 AM CST
    Who cares? Since when do we tell a man how to spend his money?
    —————————————————–
    I’d say when he’s asking for a half-billion dollar taxpayer handout is a good time to do that.

    As for people saying that this is how other NFL owners do it, I say that we are in a different time now, so the mindset & approach needs to change on publicly funding sports stadiums.

  61. clonefan says: Dec 1, 2011 12:56 PM

    I find the ignorance from some of the NY fans humorous sad and offensive. You know nothing of the Midwest and you state how we should finance a stadium for a millionaires to play in when you didn’t pay $0.01 for the new play ground that the Jets and Giants share. That play ground was 100% privately financed and the public was unwilling to build a stadium for the Jets. Maybe the Jets should move to LA instead of having to be second class citizens and share a facility with the New Jersey Giants.

    Now as far as the insults of the Midwest. I have lived in the Mid Hudson Valley of New York and been to NYC many times. I now live 80 miles south of MPLS. Both states have much to offer. I prefer where I am at, but NYC is a neat place, Long Island is cool and Up State is gorgeous. But there is something about the Midwest that I love and there is a lot of beauty here too, but if you prefer to stay ignorant that is fine with me, I prefer it not too crowded….

    Your uneducated farmer remark doesn’t even deserve a response. You don’t know what farming is…

  62. bigjdve says: Dec 1, 2011 1:54 PM

    I’d say when he’s asking for a half-billion dollar taxpayer handout is a good time to do that.

    As for people saying that this is how other NFL owners do it, I say that we are in a different time now, so the mindset & approach needs to change on publicly funding sports stadiums.

    1. I would respectfully disagree. This isn’t a handout, this is leveraging a deal to keep his business in this area. He could go somewhere else where he can get a better deal. Sometimes when you are the vendor, you have the leverage.

    2. We aren’t in a different time, the stadium deals have been happening in the last couple of years. Just look at Dallas, they gave even more for the stadium.

  63. bulldogslc says: Dec 1, 2011 2:22 PM

    Do MN people really have a problem with owners having more than one businesses? Is Wilf the only one? Two seperate businesses an two separate headaches. Money is spent and made in two different sources. If he was using Viking money then you have a complaint

  64. clonefan says: Dec 1, 2011 3:02 PM

    @bigjdve: No Arlington only gave $325 million Jones put up the rest of the $1.15 Billion. Just a little different than what good old Wilf wants. Just about the exact opposite….

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