Written by Tom Steward | December 12, 2016

No More Freebie Tickets for Political Insiders at U.S. Bank Stadium

suiteThe free ride for luxury suite tickets to Vikings games and other events at U.S. Bank Stadium for political pals of Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority big-wigs Ted Mondale and Michele Kelm-Helgen has ended as abruptly as a Vikings’ playoff run.

No more freebies for insiders and family members that populate the list of ticket recipients being released by MSFA this afternoon. The Star Tribune reports Mondale and Kelm-Helgen have suddenly seen the light, banning the distribution of tickets to games and other events for any purpose except for work directly related to marketing the stadium.

The government body that runs U.S. Bank Stadium proposed a ban Monday on the recently revealed practice of board members bringing friends and family as guests to Minnesota Vikings games and concerts and released the names of guests, which included many family members of board members.

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen and executive director Ted Mondale say the five-member board will consider the change during the regularly scheduled monthly meeting Friday.

In a statement, Kelm-Helgen said, “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.”

Revelations that Dayton Administration officials, Minneapolis city officials and others were given tickets to NFL games, food and liquor in the MSFA suites led Minnesota Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles to initiate an investigation into the perk. House and Senate legislators have criticized the lack of transparency by MSFA officials, hinting at legislative hearings to look into the suites and why both Mondale and Kelm-Helgen hold down six-figure salary jobs.

In a story on Nov. 20, the Star Tribune reported that Kelm-Helgen and Mondale controlled access to two lower-concourse luxury suites at the $1.1 billion stadium that opened in August. The suites accommodate 18 guests each and sell for at least $200,000 for the full 10-game Vikings season. The MSFA refused to reveal who had been in the suites — with the exception of the names of 12 public officials who had reimbursed for their tickets after a reporter began asking question.

Since the Star Tribune began requesting information on guests in the MSFA suites, the agency has collected more than $21,000 from attendees. Many of those checks were collected months after guests attended games.

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