MN Sports Facilities Authority Members Dance Around Questions About Suite Costs

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By Darb02 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Senator Mark Koran (R-North Branch) asks Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Board members, “What’s the actual fair market value” of Vikings suite tickets.

SAINT PAUL, MINN – First-term Senator Mark Koran (R-North Branch) grilled members of the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority during a State Government Finance committee hearing on Feb. 7, 2017.  

Part of the hearing focused on the suites overseen by the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (MSFA).  As Alpha News reported, Legislative Auditor, Jim Nobles, is investigating the use of three suites by the MSFA.  According to the Star Tribune, the guests of the MSFA paid $200 per suite seat per game: $132 for the ticket and $68 for concessions.  

US Bank Stadium Minnesota Vikings suite costs.
US Bank Stadium Minnesota Vikings suite costs.

As Koran notes in the video, the average cost per suite per Vikings season (ten home games) is around $300,000.  Koran asks MSFA board members, Michele Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale, repeatedly for the actual fair market value of suite seats plus luxury catering and premium parking for Vikings games attended by friends and political cronies of the MNSFA.

“The Spectacular Friends and Family plan has ended; or we’d like to see it end,” Koran said, “It’s an egregious abuse of public funds.  What’s the fair market value?”  

Neither Kelm-Helgen or Mondale gave Koran a straight answer, but instead, as Koran points out in the video, danced around the actual fair market cost of the suites.

“It’s difficult to identify.  At some point you identify something that is somewhat reasonable in terms of cost for what a ticket might be and that’s what was paid,” Kelm-Helgen said. The guests of the MSFA paid about $200 per ticket in the suites which included premium parking, food and beverages.  Ted Mondale did attest that the MSFA board members personally paid for the alcohol at the events.

Representative Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) questioned the officials further about the costs, asking, “Where does the money come from to pay for the food piece, then?”  Kelm-Helgen responded, “It comes from the authority’s marketing budget.”  To which Sarah Anderson replied, “So it’s the taxpayers dollars then that are paying that piece then?”

“It comes out of our operating money,” Kelm-Helgen said, nodding her head.

In September 2016, WCCO TV published an article outlining the “real cost” of attending a Vikings football game.  WCCO concluded that after paying for tickets, plus parking, food and drinks, it would cost the average family of four around $1100 to attend a game; those seats wouldn’t be in a luxury suite.

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