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Wilfs may pay nearly $100 million bond in New Jersey lawsuit

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Vikings owners Zygi, Mark and Leonard Wilf may have to post a $99.5 million bond if a judge decides to delay damages awarded to former business partners in a New Jersey real estate lawsuit.

The Pioneer Press reports Judge DeAnne Wilson has scheduled a hearing Monday in Morris Township, New Jersey to finalize her $84.5 million judgment against the Wilfs. She ruled they committed fraud and violated the state's civil racketeering laws in a failed real-estate venture from the 1980s.

An arbitrator also ordered the Wilfs pay $15 million in attorneys fees accumulated during the 21-year-old lawsuit.

The Pioneer Press report says the Wilfs argued in court this week that Wilson should delay awarding the damages to plaintiffs Josef Halpern and Ada Reichmann pending their appeal. Halpern's attorney, Alan Lebensfeld, says if the Wilfs prevail they would still be required to back the $99.5 million bottom line through bonds or other securities.

The news comes as the Vikings have just broken ground on their new $1 billion stadium. The Wilfs just are required to put up an initial $50 million towards construction.

"There's a lot of money between those two numbers," Lebensfeld told the Pioneer Press.

The newspaper said an email message left Thursday night with the Wilfs attorney Sheppard Guryan was not immediately returned.

Mark Wilf said in September, "I think the important thing for everyone here is it doesn't affect, one iota, our commitment to moving on to getting the stadium done and opened in the fall of 2016."

Also Thursday, a Hennepin County judge ruled that he will not stop the Minneapolis City Council from voting on whether to issue up to $65 million in bonds for the Downtown East Development Project, on Friday.

Finance and Commerce reports that Judge Mel Dickstein told the plaintiffs and the city attorney that he plans to decide early next week whether to issue a temporary restraining order against the city's financing of part of the $400 million project.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by former City Council Members Dan Cohen and Paul Ostrow and former mayoral candidate Stephanie Woodruff. It sought an immediate injunction against a planned council vote.

The group says the city's contribution to the Downtown East project should be considered as part of its share in the Vikings stadium since the development is close to the stadium site and a parking garage there could benefit stadium users.

City officials say the stadium and Downtown East project are separate and that both are important to the city.

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