ST. PAUL, Minn. – A report released by the Minnesota Legislative Auditor calls for the University of Minnesota to adopt stricter guidelines regarding family and friends’ access to seats reserved for members of the board of Regents.
The special report was commissioned by the legislature after revelations regarding the misuse of luxury suites in US Bank Stadium by members of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) board were revealed. Members of the MSFA board used the luxury suites to entertain family and friends, including several prominent members of the Democratic party.
The report examines US Bank Stadium again, as well as the Xcel Energy Center, Target Center, Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium, and CHS Field – home of the minor league St. Paul Saints baseball team. All of these stadiums had some degree of public financing included.
“Three of the facilities we examined have at least one suite available for use by the facility’s governing body or the governing body’s employees,” reads the report. “One of the bodies (the University of Minnesota Board of Regents) does not track the purpose served by each guest’s use of the suite.”
Three of the stadiums do not have suites marked specifically for use by a body with oversight of the stadium. Of the three remaining stadiums, none of them had policies requiring a tracking of what the suites were used for until after MSFA revelations starting late last year. Since MSFA adopted such a policy in February 2017, while the Minnesota Ballpark Authority did likewise for Target Field in April.
None of these facilities or their oversight bodies had an policies regarding the use of suites by friends and family of employees either. MSFA has since revised its policies and banned family and friends from using the suite, as has the Minnesota Ballpark Authority.
No such policy change has been forthcoming from the Board of Regents regarding TCF Bank Stadium.
“In 2016, the number of family members of Regents, the University President, Board of Regents staff, or top University officials ranged from 7 to 17 per game,” reads the report. “In addition, many suite attendees were family members or guests of other individuals invited to use the suite.”
TCF Bank Stadium invitees are also the only ones who are allowed free food and alcoholic beverages. At US Bank this is limited to free food, while Target Field doesn’t provide that option either.
In its final recommendations the report conceded that if the Board of Regents refuses to make changes to policies governing the use of the suites it has control of, there is little anyone can do to compel that action.
“We urge the University to consider adopting a policy that limits use of the Regents and President’s suite by family and friends of University governing officials and administrative leaders,” reads the report. In the absence of University action, we offer no recommendation for legislative action because the Board of Regents has sole authority to manage the University of Minnesota.”