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Capitol Chatter: Vikings’ financial report due soon

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ST. PAUL — Minnesotans should know a bit more about the Vikings’ ability to pay their share of a new stadium in coming days.

However, don’t expect to know how much the Wilf family is worth or learn specifics about their finances.

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"We expect this report to be finalized next week and will make this public as soon as we receive it," Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said Wednesday.

The report is about whether Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf were honest in their dealings with the state in negotiating a stadium deal.

While the Wilfs are responsible for raising nearly half of the $1 billion construction cost (with Minneapolis and the state kicking in the rest), it is not clear how much, if any, will come out of the owners’ pockets. They have said they plan to sell seat licenses, for instance, to help with their portion of the costs.

The authority launched an investigation of the Wilfs after a New Jersey judge said in a lawsuit trial that "the bad faith and evil motive were demonstrated in the testimony of Zygi Wilf himself."

Gov. Mark Dayton called for the probe to make sure the Wilfs were up front with Minnesotans.

In a private meeting, the authority last week heard an update to the investigation, none of which was made public.

"We have almost all the information, both financial and legal, that we need to finalize the due diligence review..." Kelm-Helgen said. "However, based on the information received to date, we have indications that the team will have the financial capability to move forward with the stadium project."

The Vikings organization was happy with the comment.

"Our fans deserve — and we are committed to building — a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Minneapolis," a Vikings statement said. "The new $975 million stadium will bring thousands of construction and ongoing jobs, along with further economic activity from stadium attendees who will patronize restaurants, bars and retail stores both before and after events."

Groundbreaking on the stadium is planned for fall, with the first Vikings game set for 2016.

Paul Bunyan on air

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are on the air across Minnesota.

After a smaller launch last month, comic commercials featuring the Minnesota icons have expanded statewide. They feature Bunyan and Babe facing situations where health care is needed.

In one, after a water skiing accident sends Bunyan into a forest, he cries out: "Babe, get your blue ox over here."

The new state MNsure program bought the spots to promote its mission to provide a new method of for buying health insurance.

On Friday, MNsure announced policies that will be offered. While Minnesotans may take a look at that information now, they cannot purchase policies until Oct. 1. Policies will not take effect until Jan. 1.

Federal law requires Americans to carry health insurance by next spring.

Most Minnesotans who buy private insurance will go online to check out MNsure’s offerings, but telephone and in-person options also will be available to compare policies’ rates and services.

People with employer-provided insurance likely will not need to check out MNsure unless the coverage is dropped.

More than 1 million Minnesotans are expected to use MNsure. Minnesota is the only state in the region to establish its own insurance marketplace; other states will go with a federally provided one.

remain hungry

Almost one in nine Minnesota households reported serious problems getting enough to eat at some point last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported, and the liberal Minnesota Budget Project said that shows too many people were forced to cut back on how much they ate.

Nan Madden of the project said that proves the Republican congressional effort to cut food stamps, officially known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are taking the wrong route.

More than 276,000 Minnesota households receive food stamps.

Paying their way

Two-dozen Minnesota lawmakers paid their own way to this weekend’s commissioning of the USS Minnesota submarine.

The heavily Republican delegation was to take part in the Norfolk, Va., ceremony and get back to Minnesota before a planned special legislative session Monday.

The sub is the third Navy vessel to carry the Minnesota name. The first was a steam frigate launched Dec. 1, 1855, in the Civil War. The next Minnesota was a battleship that sailed from 1905 to 1924.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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