MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority has released the guest lists for the two U.S. Bank Stadium suites retained by the authority for Vikings games, concerts and other events.
In releasing the guest lists, MSFA also announced a draft revised suite use policy aimed at increasing accountability and transparency. Changes to the policy include prohibiting friends and family of MSFA commissioners and the CEO/Executive Director from having access to MSFA suite tickets.
The proposed policy adds record-keeping requirements to document all individuals using suite tickets. These proposed changes will be discussed during the MSFA board meeting scheduled on Friday, December 16.
According to MSFA, the primary purpose of the suites is to “actively market U.S. Bank Stadium for a broad range of civic, community, athletic, educational, cultural, and commercial activities.”
View the guest lists (PDFs)
Statement from MSFA chair Michele Kelm-Helgen and CEO Ted Mondale
“The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority is entrusted by the public to ensure that its investment in U.S. Bank Stadium is well-maintained and meets the intended purposes for building and operating a world-class multi-use facility. One of those purposes is attracting sports and entertainment events like the Super Bowl, NCAA Men’s Final Four and the X Games to the region. Suites are a critical tool to persuade event organizers and site selectors to bring their conventions, shows and sporting events to Minnesota.
While MSFA’s original suite use policy was similar to written and unwritten policies by the Metrodome and many other public venues in the region including the Ballpark Authority, Xcel Energy Center and TCF Bank Stadium, the Authority has concluded that additional measures are necessary to remain a good steward of the public’s investment in U.S. Bank Stadium while fully enabling our marketing efforts.
The Authority has decided to strengthen its suite usage policy to clearly specify the intended purpose of the suites, which is to market the stadium and the region. These changes allow the Authority to continue to attract first-class events while restoring the public’s trust.
Let me be clear – friends and family of MSFA commissioners will no longer have access to MSFA suite tickets, and the suites will only be used for event marketing purposes.”
State auditor launches investigation
The use of the suites grabbed the attention of Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles, who has announced an emergency audit of the MSFA’s suite usage.
“My stance is there are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Nobles. “Well, I think it’s been said by the Authority members that there have been family members and friends who have been allowed to use the seats and I don’t see the business purpose for that. I don’t see the public purpose. “
Nobles says this office will try and complete its investigation early in 2017 for the start of the legislative session.
Two Republican lawmakers have called on the MSFA to stop using the two suites at U.S. Bank Stadium until questions about ethics and who has used the suites have all been answered. Some of the suite tickets to Vikings games and concerts went to public officials and family members. Many have since reimbursed the MSFA, but that does not satisfy Rep. Peggy Scott.
“Those tickets are actually valued at more than $800, so $200 per ticket is not going to cut it,” said Scott.
Statement from Gov. Mark Dayton
“I commend the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority for releasing the names of guests at its suites and for developing a more stringent policy governing their use. Those changes are consistent with my previously-stated position that public funds should only be expended for a public purpose.”
Why should MSFA retain two suites?
According to MSFA: “The Authority negotiated an agreement with the Minnesota Vikings to carve out two suites that remain controlled by the Authority, while the remaining suites are controlled by the Minnesota Vikings. The option to use two suites for marketing allows MSFA and its partners to simultaneously host large groups looking at U.S. Bank Stadium as a venue for a future convention or event. Returning one or both suites to the Minnesota Vikings would put U.S. Bank Stadium at a competitive disadvantage to other regional venues and generate new stadium revenue for the Minnesota Vikings.”