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Spat over financials could delay opening of new Vikings stadium

New Minnesota Vikings stadium

A request for financial data from Zygi Wilf and family for an audit could delay the opening of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, which will also serve as winter home of Golden Gophers baseball.

The project is currently on hold, pending an audit of the Wilf finances. The new stadium is designed to house baseball after the end of the NFL season as a replacement for the Metrodome; the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers are set to play there during the beginning of the NCAA season, and the place should be heavily used by area college and high-school baseball teams as well.

If it is built, that is. Right now the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority has halted work on the project, pending an audit of the Wilf finances — finances that came into question after a New Jersey Superior Court judge declared the family guilty of fraud, among other things, in an unrelated real-estate partnership. That caught the attention of Minnesota politicos, who wanted confirmation the family has the money for their contribution to the $975-million stadium plan after paying tens of millions in the New Jersey case. The family and the Vikings have agreed to provide the data, but even if the information is provided in a timely manner, the audit — expected to take a month — will impact the construction timeline. An August 27 deadline to finalize the lease and operating agreements is already blown, and more delays could impact a November groundbreaking. From the Star Tribune:

[Stadium authority chairperson Michele] Kelm-Helgen said Monday that attorneys for the NFL club relented over the weekend, pledging to provide that paperwork. But Vikings officials also reiterated that they will not continue to negotiate critical stadium lease and development agreements until the authority’s independent financial audit of the Wilfs is complete, potentially delaying construction and costing the project millions of dollars.

As of Monday afternoon, authority attorneys had yet to receive the information, Kelm-Helgen said. But, she added, “I am cautiously optimistic” it will be delivered.

Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president for public affairs, said the team has already provided information with “more to come.” Even then, however, it might not be enough to keep construction on track.

The Vikings have pledged $477 million toward the new stadium, but part of that will come from the NFL.

Rendering via Minnesota Vikings.

RELATED STORIES: New Vikings stadium put on hold pending Wilf investigation; On the auction block: Metrodome contents; Compromise reached on baseball at new Vikings stadium; New Vikings stadium could host Gophers baseball — if the numbers work; Adios, Metrodome; One anniversary not marked by MLB this year: Metrodome opening


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