The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) handed over its two luxury suites to U.S. Bank Stadium marketer, SMG.
SMG is responsible for both marketing and operating U.S. Bank Stadium. The company is responsible for the operation of over 230 other public assembly facilities, including McCormick Place and Soldier Field in Chicago and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Previously, the luxury suites were being used for the entertainment of MSFA members and family members. Chairwoman Kathleen Blatz, told the Star Tribune that the intended purpose for the suites was the usage for friends and family of members of MSFA.
However, this past December, MSFA became embroiled in controversy after it became known that these suites were being used to entertain political figures. Among those benefiting from the luxury suites were Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, several members of Gov. Mark Dayton’s office, and Minneapolis City Council Member Jacob Frey. The allegations of wrongful usage of up to $32,000 led then Chairwoman of MSFA Michele Kelm-Helgen to step-down in February 2017.
Last week, the board made a number of changes to the ethics underlying their operations, including banning employees from engaging in political activity while they are working. This puts the organization in-line with state laws which create similar prohibitions for other government employees. While the state legislature had planned to pass restriction on the usage of the suites, these measures never came to fruition, as this language was cut from the final budget request.
As reported by the Star Tribune, SMG was previously barred from using the luxury suites. SMG pays the state of Minnesota $6.75 million annually in order to operate the building. In addition, the state and SMG split the profits from the income for U.S. Bank Stadium. It is believed that SMG will use the luxury suites in order to attract more business partners and investors for its US Bank Stadium operation.