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Talking Points: Wilfs’ Fraud Issues & The Vikings Stadium

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Metropolitan Sport Facilities Authority was supposed to vote later this week on some of the final agreements for the Vikings stadium deal.

But those votes have been postponed after Gov. Mark Dayton called for a review of the nearly $1 billion stadium plan.

Dayton demanded the review after a New Jersey judge found that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf had committed civil fraud in a business deal in that state.

So what does that mean for the future of the stadium?

With key stadium leasing and development agreement votes being pushed back, the question now is will groundbreaking on the stadium be delayed? The Vikings have long said if the groundbreaking does not happen this fall, the stadium will not be ready in time for the start of the 2016 season.

And that would result in multi-million dollar increases in costs, costs not only for the Wilfs, but Minnesota tax payers. They are on the hook for just over half of the billion-dollar project. While a number of legal experts and lawmakers say the overall deal will eventually hold up, the risk of costly delays or even legal problems because of the review is a threat.

“We are obviously doing a deep dive into the information to make sure that the taxpayers are protected,” Chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Michele Kelm-Helgen said on WCCO Sunday Morning. The authority is overseeing the review. “But we don’t anticipate that there will be a delay unless something is uncovered that we certainly don’t know about right now.”

The exact amount of how much the Wilfs will have to pay in the New Jersey case will be announced next month. It is expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars. The Wilfs have said no matter the price of the penalty that it will not affect their ability to deliver on their $477 million share of the Vikings stadium deal.

Kelm-Helgen said the state will be billing the Wilfs for the final cost of the additional review into their finances, but that so far the Wilfs have not agreed to pay for that additional investigation.

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy and Matt Brickman at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

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