Report Urges Lawmakers to Address Use of Sports Facilities by Public Schools

July 27, 2017 10:15 PM

The Minnesota State High School League is calling for lower rental prices for the venues they use to host tournaments.

This was laid out in a report released by the Legislative Auditor's Office, who is encouraging lawmakers to take a closer look at the use of Minnesota's stadiums.

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The best high school teams in the state converge on the Twin Cities every year, but the bills to get into these stadiums can differ.

"There are charges and they are substantial charges," Joel Alter, with the Legislative Auditor's Office, said.

RELATED: Legislative Auditor Recommends Regents Restrict Suite Access at TCF Bank Stadium

This year there is no cost for baseball tournaments and Target Field and football and soccer tournaments inside U.S. Bank Stadium.

"When the legislation passed that authorized the creation of the Vikings stadium, the legislation said the State High School League could not be billed for use of that stadium," Alter said. 

Four other major venue, however, have different public use agreements in place, and the expenses the league pays vary.

 For instance, the MSHSL will pay around $4,000 to use CHS Field, $400,000 to use Target Center, $460,000 to use the University of Minnesota and more than $1 million for events at the Xcel Energy Center.

"The High School League is certainly of the opinion that they should have either free access or lower cost access to the facilities," Alter said. 

RELATED: Audit Shows Numerous Lawmakers Provided Guests Free Access to TCF Bank Stadium Suite

The director of the League said in the report that he, "wishes that all public facilities the League uses had provisions in statute similar to those that exist for U.S. Bank Stadium".

"Obviously these are public facilities with public entities, they should be working better I think than they are currently," Rep. Sarah Anderson, (R) Plymouth, said.

A representative from the University of Minnesota disagrees with free access saying in the report, "absorbing the costs of hosting high school tournaments would simply result in those costs being shifted to other parts of the University's budget".

The games will go on, but the question is, will that rental fee ever impact the price fans pay to see them.

"I think we probably need to give greater guidance from a legislative perspective to the different entities on how they treat our high school sports," Rep. Anderson said. 

The MSHSL wouldn't comment on the topic, but said keeping ticket costs low makes fans happy.

All six of these entities have a different role in this process and several provided statements below.


University of Minnesota - "With respect to Recommendation 3, it is disingenuous to suggest, as in the case of a facility used only by a for-profit professional team, that Minnesota State High School League access should be free of charge at TCF Bank Stadium. The University is a public institution and asking any public institution to provide services at no cost simply shifts those costs elsewhere. The University operates the stadium on a cost recovery basis, so the hard costs associated with any event, be they security, utilities, or facilities operations, are recovered through the fees we charge. Unlike facilities operated for the benefit of for-profit professional teams, the University's mission is not to simply operate a facility. It has a higher public purpose – and its venues across all campuses must serve the University's students and advance its mission.

Xcel Energy Center - "As the legislative auditors report points out, every venue mentioned in the report is different with different amounts of public subsidy and unique leasing arrangements. Just as importantly, every MSHSL event is different with its own unique requirements and needs. We are proud of our long partnership with the MSHSL and it is our goal to continue to work together to host first class events for the benefit of the schools, participants, their families, and their fans."

Target Field - "Target Field hosts the high school baseball tournament each year and does not charge the MSHSL anything"

Target Center- No response.

CHS Field- "We've read the report and we're comfortable with what is represented"

Credits

Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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