St. Paul, MN – A joint state legislative committee regarding the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority’s (MSFA) misuse of luxury Vikings tickets found an additional suite previously unreported by MSFA, reports KSTP.
State Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles testified that MSFA not only has access to the two luxury suites it has direct control over, but it also rents a third suite from the Vikings. The investigation started regarding misuse of the two suites by MSFA officials, their families, and other public officials.
“We discovered during this review with some help from some legislative staff that the authority actually does have a third suite,” Nobles testified, “I think this was a complete surprise to the legislature and legislators that they had in their budget this $300,000 of expenditure. I think that’s frankly something they should have taken the initiative to bring to you.”
MSFA is paying the Vikings $300,000 a year for five years. The contract lasts 30 years however.
“I just want to be clear we don’t have a third suite,” MSFA chair Michele Kelm-Helgen told lawmakers.
Kelm-Helgen claimed that the MFSA rents the space back out for non-Vikings events at US Bank Stadium as a source of revenue. They also sell the tickets to Vikings home games.
Kelm-Helgen says revenue generated by the third suite has amounted to $192,000 thus far. Over thirty years she expects the $1.5 million investment will be more than paid off.
Governor Mark Dayton strongly condemned legislators investigating the matter, accusing them of trying to smear Kelm-Helgen, MSFA Executive Director Ted Mondale, and other officials.
“Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen, Executive Director Ted Mondale, their administrative team, and the MSFA Board have already demonstrated their exceptional dedication and ability in completing this world-class stadium. They built for the people of Minnesota a multi-purpose stadium on-time and on-budget, while employing over 7,000 workers, 39 percent of whom were minorities,” wrote Dayton in a statement, “Nonetheless, I expect a handful of legislators will ignore these accomplishments, and instead deride and impugn the dedicated public officials who made these successes possible. Their attempts to use this single episode to achieve their own political objectives do nothing to benefit the stadium’s operations or advance the public good.”
Dayton appointed Kelm-Helgen as chair of MSFA. She previously served as his deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs.