- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The public agency that runs the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium moved Monday to bar friends and relatives of its top officials from using its luxury suites.

In the wake of criticism, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority issued a draft policy change saying that friends and family of its commissioners and executive director should no longer have access to free tickets for its two 18-person suites in U.S. Bank Stadium.

Authority chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said in a statement that the suites should be used only for marketing purposes, as originally intended.

Kelm-Helgen and CEO/executive director Ted Mondale had defended the suite access as an important way to attract future sporting and entertainment events. But they bowed to public officials who said authority officials had abused the practice by extending the perk to their relatives and friends. Legislative auditor James Nobles has begun an investigation.

The authority’s board will consider the policy changes when it meets Friday.

“To the best of my knowledge, this will be the most detailed and stringent policy governing the use of publicly-owned suites for any similar Minnesota venue,” the authority’s chief lawyer, Jay Lindgren, wrote in a memo explaining the changes. “The policy may also very well be one of the most stringent - if not the most stringent - for any stadium in the nation.”

The authority also released guest lists from commissioners of individuals who had received suite tickets since the stadium opened in August. Many of them have reimbursed the authority for the costs of their tickets, food and drinks, albeit months after the events they attended. Several of them are government or University of Minnesota officials, but the guests have also included Mondale’s father, former vice president Walter Mondale.

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