A new Minnesota Vikings stadium that would also house University of Minnesota baseball games is on hold while the state investigates the finances of team owner Zygi Wilf and family.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority has retained outside counsel to look more closely into the Wilf family finances after a New Jersey Superior Court judge declared the family guilty of fraud, among other things, in an unrelated real-estate partnership. From the Star Tribune:
The review group, which will also include FTC Consulting, an international forensic accounting firm, will scrutinize Wilf family litigation in New Jersey and perform “extensive background checks” as well as review the NFL’s investigations of owner applications, the authority said in a written statement.
The deeper background check stems from a finding last week by a New Jersey Superior Court judge in a long-pending lawsuit against Wilf and the family’s real estate business. The judge said the family was guilty of fraud, breach of contract and violations of the state’s civil racketeering statute in connection with a real estate partnership.
Gov. Mark Dayton, lead promoter of the stadium which has the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis set to pay $498 million of the $975 million price tag, later said that he found the judge’s comments “very, very concerning” and urged the authority and its legal counsel to carefully review the owners and team commitments to the project to ensure that they are “truthful and accurate.”
If the Wilf family finances pass the investigation, a scheduled October groundbreaking would still take place. However, scheduled approval of a lease and development agreement currently slated for August 27 would be impacted by the investigation.
The new Vikings stadium would replace the Metrodome; the fixed-roof facility would host University of Minnesota Golden Gophers baseball games and other university and high-school matches when the local weather won’t allow outdoor play. The Metrodome is slated to be torn down at the end of this NFL season, with the Vikings set to play at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.
Rendering via Minnesota Vikings.
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