Lawmakers took U.S. Bank Stadium officials to task at the state Capitol Thursday, saying they still have grave reservations about security at the $1.1 billion facility and about the company that runs it.
The Vikings stadium fired its security contractor, Chicago-based Monterrey Security, last month and quickly replaced it with two other firms.
Confusion by an executive of the stadium's management company, SMG, about requirements for security credentials showed that problems didn't go away after Monterrey's firing, said Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, the state government finance committee chair.
"If you don't know just the basics of what your security is supposed to have, how are you supposed to protect the people that are going to that stadium," Anderson said. "As a mom, I wouldn't want to have my kid going there if they're not doing the proper checks of individuals."
Her comments came after a two-hour hearing at the state Capitol that included reports from the Minnesota Board of Private Detective and Protective Agents and a law firm hired by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.
The law firm's report was especially critical, offering a litany of shortcomings by Monterrey, including "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."
Monterrey CEO Juan Gaytan defended his company last month in front of the state's private detective board, which was weighing whether to renew his firm's license to provide security in Minnesota. Gaytan, a former Chicago police officer, had promised to fix the issues and said the problems were small. But he also admitted he'd bused in dozens of people from Chicago to work a Vikings home game in September without doing the background work the state of Minnesota required.
The board declined to renew Monterrey's license, ending its presence in the state.
Lawmakers pointed out that Gaytan had been the subject of critical press coverage in Chicago more than a decade ago. They were dismayed to find that stadium officials were apparently aware of the coverage, but didn't consider disqualifying Monterrey's bid to handle game and building security at U.S. Bank Stadium. The firm still handles security for the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
"No way in a million years would I have said that this is the right firm to hire," said Anderson, who has proposed rebooting the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority entirely and giving lawmakers more authority over the stadium.
U.S. Bank Stadium's management firm, SMG, replaced Monterrey within hours of getting the results of the investigation into the company, bringing in G4S and Whelan Security to handle the remainder of Monterrey's 3-year contract.
Stadium general manager Patrick Talty told lawmakers that he, the Vikings and the MFSA spent five months weighing who should get the new stadium's security contract before it opened last summer. He also defended the security practices of SMG.
"Our plans and procedures are some of the best in the nation," Talty told the committee on Thursday. "We are doing a good job."
But lawmakers sounded unconvinced.
"I'm not very reassured," said Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston. "This is very concerning."