I don’t know if you were paying attention to the fine print in this post about how Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf once reneged on a land deal, but it was about a lawsuit against Wilf in a 20-year-old real estate partnership in New Jersey, and, well, Wilf lost on Friday. Or more specifically, was found guilty of fraud, breach of contract, and violations of the state’s civil racketeering statute. And it turns out that Minnesota officials aren’t too happy about that:
“Everybody is on high alert that this is going to be looked at under a fine microscope,” said Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Board Member Duane Benson, a former legislator and NFL linebacker. “The governor is not going to, nor are we going to, treat this lightly. A lot of legislators will be watching this very closely, as well we should.”
Now, this could just be PR, or a sign that state legislators are going to add a demand that Wilf add a promise to provide free moist towelettes in the sports authority’s luxury suite or something. But some elected officials are talking tough, anyway — assistant house minority leader Rep. Kelby Woodard, who backed the original stadium deal, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “I don’t think we’re at the point of no return,” but “if the Wilfs aren’t able to live up to their obligations, the deal is off.”
It’s highly unlikely anyone would really blow up the deal over this, but the state still hasn’t approved selling the stadium bonds, though it did last month approve devoting a one-time cigarette-tax windfall of $26.5 million, plus an estimated $20 million in annual taxes on out-of-state corporations doing business in Minnesota, to help make up for all that electronic gambling money that isn’t pouring in. At this point, pretty much the only certainty is that the final Vikings funding deal won’t look much like what was initially passed last year — but then, we’ve seen that movie before.