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Esme’s Blog: Trouble In Vikings Country

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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 stadium deal that most of us thought was a done deal in May is unraveling at the midnight hour over fallout from a New Jersey Judge’s findings that the Minnesota Vikings owners are guilty of civil fraud.

Now, Zygi and Mark Wilf are apparently not cooperating with the additional state investigation of their finances that was ordered by Gov. Mark Dayton. The attorney hired by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority says the Wilfs are refusing to supply information to him.

A team representative insists the Wilfs are cooperating. Looming large is the penalty phase of the New Jersey court case.

How much will the Judge make the Wilfs pay? The penalty will almost certainly be in the tens of millions of dollars.

At the same time the Wilfs are not turning over financial documents, they are warning that any delay of the scheduled October groundbreaking will cost millions. And that’s millions not only for the Wilfs, but taxpayers who are footing the bill for just over half of the nearly billion dollar project.

By dragging their feet over disclosures, it appears the Wilfs themselves threaten to contribute to a possible delay. And what if the current investigation turns up something that is significant? What options will the state have?

It’s a mess that will almost certainly get messier.

Most legal experts say it is highly unlikely that the deal will come completely undone, but the experts also say the possibility for costly delays is very real.

The Wilfs are veterans of drawn out disputes, the New Jersey case has gone on for 20 years. Vikings fans are used to waiting too, waiting for that ultimate championship season that has at times been so close, but has always slipped away.

Now it’s a wait for a stadium deal that seemed completed back in May, but suddenly, improbably is in trouble.

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