Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  By PHIL ERVIN  |  Last updated 8/23/13
MINNEAPOLIS -- As of Friday morning, the notion the Wilf family's legal issues may affect construction of the Minnesota Vikings' new stadium is no longer hypothetical. Groundbreaking on the project, originally slated for October, has been pushed back a month. Negotiations between the team and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority have ceased for the time being. If disconnect persists much longer, the project could be delayed even further. This is starting to get serious. That was the message in MSFA chair Michele Kelm-Helgen's statement Friday morning urging the Vikings to come back to the discussion table Monday. A new timeline issued by the MSFA's construction consultant calls for a November construction start in order to complete the 975 million venue in time for the 2016 football season. But that's only if the two sides sign off on the stadium's use and development agreements by Sept. 15, the completion date for an audit of Zygi Wilf and other members of the Vikings' ownership group, which was found to have withheld agreed-upon revenue from business partners in one of their manifold real estate ventures. Before news of those court findings broke, the team and the authority were scheduled to finalize the use (basically a lease) and development (construction details) accords Friday. Instead, the MSFA is looking into the team's ability to finance its allotted 477 million of the stadium project, the remaining cost of which is being footed by the city and the state. According to the authority's release, the Vikings cancelled meetings with the MSFA last week and said they won't negotiate again until the due-diligence probe is complete. "It is imperative that the MSFA and the Vikings work on these two issues concurrently -- negotiate the (use agreement) and (development agreement) and complete the additional due diligence required by the recent court decision," Kelm-Helgen said. "If these negotiations do not resume until September 15th, the entire schedule will slip a month." Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley said as much when the audit of the Wilfs first began: "We've got to keep the project going, so we ask the stadium authority to keep this thing rolling while they complete their research," he said Aug. 13. "We think we can dual-track this project." Bagley did not immediately return a message left Friday. Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter
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