MINNEAPOLIS - Consider it the latest saga in the quest for a new Vikings stadium.
The Minnesota Vikings have temporarily stopped final negotiations with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority until it completes a "due diligence" review of the Vikings' owners.
That inquiry began after a New Jersey judge recently ruled against the Wilf Family in a 21-year-old real estate lawsuit saying they defrauded their business partners at the time. They could be out tens of millions of dollars.
"It's extremely difficult to negotiate partnership agreements when you're not sitting at the table as partners," said Lester Bagley, Vikings spokesperson.
Vikings officials claim they have handed over all their detailed financial documentation as it relates to the due diligence review, but in a statement Friday evening, the MSFA disputed that.
"We have received no such information. The MSFA, through our attorneys, have made multiple requests for more cooperation from the Wilfs. To date they have refused to provide us with any personal financial information that our advisors need to obtain comfort that the New Jersey court case result will not impact their ability to meet their financial obligations," wrote Peter Carter, the Dorsey & Whitney attorney heading the inquiry.
The recent dispute could delay the ground breaking of the new stadium which was slated in the fall.
"I don't think they are going to make their deadlines," said Joe Daly, an experienced negotiator and arbitrator.
Daly is a law professor at Hamline University and has helped broker deals over his career.
"I just can't see how with this kind of problem, how we can get this done and start digging in November,"
It could be even longer, he says.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the Vikings play for an extra year at the Twin Cities stadium, the University of Minnesota stadium," he said.
The Vikings are slated to play at the University of Minnesota's TCF Stadium for two seasons while the new stadium is built. University officials tell KARE 11, they are going ahead as planned as it relates to the Vikings playing at TCF.
"I've told my students, this is the danger zone right here. Something can go wrong and you have to be very patient. You've got to be really careful," said Daly.
In fact, Daly tells KARE 11 when two sides are the closest, that's when they have the greatest potential of moving the farthest apart.
When you get really close and something goes wrong, there is a psychological tendency to backup and move away," he said.
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