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Fowler likely out as Vikings sale progresses

MINNEAPOLIS (May 6, 2005) -- With the sale of the Minnesota Vikings still pending but nearing probable completion, there are strong indications Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler is relinquishing his role as lead investor in his group.

Zygmunt Wilf, a New Jersey real estate developer initially identified as one of Fowler's four limited partners, is apparently in the process of taking over as general partner to ensure the deal goes through.

NFL owners are expected to vote on the purchase of the team from Red McCombs at the league's spring meetings May 24-25 in Washington, D.C.

"It just sounds most likely that they're going to go ahead and buy it and rearrange the thing," said Glen Taylor, owner of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and an unsuccessful bidder for the Vikings. "Reggie's going to move down, and another guy is going to move up."

Wilf made the latest of several visits to the Twin Cities earlier this week to meet with landowners and local officials about a new stadium north of Minneapolis.

"I believe that Zyggi Wilf is preparing to proceed here," said Anoka County commissioner Dan Erhart, who has been responsible for arranging the meetings. "Clearly, he was the person speaking for the group."

Fowler hasn't commented publicly since February, and his spokeswoman said he wouldn't until the deal is resolved. Wilf hasn't commented since his name surfaced in connection with Fowler.

Since Fowler's net worth is unknown and he has been unwilling to reveal it, skepticism about his ability to come up with the cash arose soon after the deal -- for a reported $625 million -- was announced nearly three months ago. League rules require the general partner to have at least a 30 percent stake in the team.

"Whether it's Mr. Fowler or Mr. Wilf or anybody else, we need an owner," Erhart said.

Anoka County officials have targeted a site in the suburb of Blaine, about 20 miles north of Minneapolis, for a major development with a stadium as the centerpiece.

Taylor was initially contacted by Fowler about being a minority investor. He said he wasn't interested after investigating the offer and put together his own bid that was trumped by Fowler's.

Believing now that Wilf will head the group, Taylor said he thinks it's in better financial shape.

"I'm sure they'll get accepted, because the general partner will have enough money," Taylor said. "I don't know how they would not."

League spokesman Greg Aiello didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment. McCombs was unavailable for comment.

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