The new leader of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said Wednesday the message coming from a House committee is being heard loud and clear.
Mike Vekich, chair of the MSFA since July 22, told the House State Government Finance Committee there is strong oversight at U.S. Bank Stadium and will continue to be going forward.
“We’re in the right position where it should have been,” he said.
Wednesday’s was the second committee hearing in three weeks after a scathing performance report released in September showed Chicago-based Monterrey Security Consultants, Inc. did not have its state license renewed, and was ousted from its three-year contract at the Minneapolis stadium and replaced by Whelan Event Services and G4S.
Because of time constraints, MSFA representatives did not have the opportunity to testify at the Oct. 12 hearing.
Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth), the committee chair, said the “buck stops at the Legislature,” because we oversee the MSFA, which oversees SMG, the company contracted to operate the stadium.
“We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she said.
“It” is the performance of Monterrey, which according to the performance report, in part, “failed to comply with state laws and regulations for private security companies. Examples included failure to conduct required background checks, employment of individuals with disqualifying criminal records, failure to comply with state training requirements, and failure to accurately respond to inquiries from state security industry regulators.”
“While Monterrey’s failure to comply with established regulations and policies did not lead to any operational security issues at the stadium, it was SMG’s and MSFA’s fiduciary responsibility to terminate the contract,” Vekich said.
Among procedural stadium operation changes, he said, is greater auditing of services provided by the current security companies, such as staffing reviews.
“We can always do better and we will continue to look at that,” he said.
Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul) questioned the meeting’s purpose. “It seems like we’re kind of kicking a dog put to death already,” he said.
Anderson countered the hearing is about oversight of the so-called “People’s Stadium,” to make sure the past is not repeated.
Anderson sponsored a bill in 2017 that would, in part, modify the MSFA governance structure, restrict the use of stadium suites, and have the legislative auditor review “operations and management structure of publicly-owned major sports event facilities in Minnesota,” including “whether the public governing bodies have adopted policies or procedures to ensure their oversight activities.”
The Super Bowl is scheduled to be played in U.S. Bank Stadium Feb. 4, 2018. Security for that event is coordinated by the NFL.