MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s Legislative auditor opened Wednesday an investigation into the use of luxury suites at U.S. Bank Stadium by top public officials.
Moreover, the state senator who sponsored the stadium bill says she wants answers — fast.
The Star Tribune first reported that stadium officials control two luxury suites at U.S. Bank Stadium and gave free Vikings tickets to friends and family.
So far, top officials at the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority have refused to reveal the list of names of people who got free tickets, food and booze for stadium events.
State Auditor James Nobles says he’s prepared to put them under oath to get the information he needs.
The auditor is investigating whether the MSFA violated the law by passing out free Vikings tickets in luxury suites to friends and family.
Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center) says stadium officials turned game day “freebies” into a “perk of the job.”
“Who was there? When did they pay? Did they pay for their tickets?…Those are questions the public deserves an answer to, and the Legislature deserves an answer,” Rosen said.
Stadium officials have access to a pair of lower level suites for all football games and other stadium events, free tickets, food and alcohol.
The MSFA won’t reveal the names of people it entertained.
Nobles says he’s opening a “priority investigation” to see if any conflict of interest laws have been violated.
“These are public resources that are being utilized,” he said. “And it’s a very clear line. You cannot use public resources for private gain or benefit.”
The MSFA says it needs the suites to market the stadium for future events, but promises to revise the policy by next year.
“Until then, commissioners will not be inviting family, friends or guests other than marketing prospects,” the stadium officials said.
To Rosen, that’s too late.
“We gave the [MSFA] this responsibility, and they blatantly abused it,” the senator said.
Rosen says she has asked the MSFA for the names of every person who used the luxury suite.
If she doesn’t get it, she’s prepared to subpoena security tapes from Vikings games to see who partied at U.S. Bank.