ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota House Monday pulled the plug on the agency that oversees U.S. Bank Stadium.
This comes after a series of stadium scandals caused a public outcry, including news reports that members of the Sports Authority gave free luxury suite tickets to Democratic friends and family members that caused an uproar at the State Capitol.
The House voted overwhelmingly to abolish the Minnesota Sports Authority and start over with a new board, and new rules for running the billion-dollar home of the Minnesota Vikings.
The head of the Stadium Authority, Michele Kelm-Helgen, resigned after news reports revealed board members gave free luxury tickets to Democratic friends and family.
Lawmakers reacted to the public outcry by overhauling the entire stadium operation.
“And it’s not meant to be a gift for friends and family of certain individuals,” Rep. Sarah Anderson (R), Chair of the State Government Finance Committee, said. “This is not a private club house. This is truly a People’s Stadium.”
The House vote comes one day after another scandal: The Star Tribune reported Kelm-Helgen jumped to the front of the Vikings season ticket line, arranging first-row, 50-yard-line seats for her family and friends.
The Republican House Speaker calls it a “black eye” for the state.
“And it just has been a catastrophic example of dereliction of duty, and mistrust on behalf of the public,” Speaker Kurt Daudt said.
Lawmakers are abolishing the old, five-member board and creating a new seven-member body. The bill also bans tickets for family and friends, and sells off one of two luxury suites the board owns.
Rep. Anderson calls it a signal to ordinary Minnesotans.
“This is about having integrity in the system and saying to the people of Minnesota that this kind of abuse stops today,” she said. “It’s done. It’s over.”
Despite Monday’s action, the controversy is not yet over. Top Republican leaders say they want to see if any other political friends and family got special treatment to buy Vikings season tickets. And they’re planning more hearings to see if any ethics or gift laws were broken.