MINNEAPOLIS-New Jersey-based real estate developer Zygmunt Wilf’s $600-million deal to buy the Minnesota Vikings was unanimously approved Wednesday by the National Football League’s 32 owners. Texas businessman Red McCombs sold the team, which he has owned since buying it for $246 million in 1998.
McCombs has been frustrated in getting public support for a new stadium for the team, at one point looking into moving the team. Wilf, who would like to see a new stadium as the centerpiece for a larger development, says he will not move the team.
Wilf pledged at a news conference Wednesday the team would “be in the Minneapolis area forever,” according to the National Football League’s website. He said he is in negotiations with various sites in the Twin Cities area, not just one in Blaine that had been the focus of McCombs’ efforts. Wilf said he favors an open-air stadium so the team can create a home field advantage due to the cold, late fall climate. Before moving into the Metrodome in the early 1980s, the Vikings played outdoors at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington.
Wilf is the chief operating officer of Garden Commercial Properties in Short Hills, NJ. The company has 109 retail outlets totaling nearly 26 million sf and is the 17th-largest shopping-center owner in the US, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Garden Homes Development, the housing arm of the Wilfs’ business, builds houses and apartments in New Jersey, New York and California.
Wilf’s group of minority partners includes Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler, who was originally the general partner in the deal but came up short on financing. The sale is expected to be completed next month.
Wilf will cover 30% of the sale price. The other limited partners are Wilf’s brother, Mark, cousin Leonard Wilf and developers David Mandlebaum and Alan Landis.