DENVER (CBS4)– The nine political appointees tasked with overseeing Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium on behalf of taxpayers, voted Thursday against creating a policy to automatically give away their private, 23 person luxury box to charities, non- profits and schools.
The climate-controlled suite, which features flat screen TVs, a bathroom, cushy seats and a wet bar is valued at at least $12,000 per Broncos game. Its located on the second level of the stadium and comes with several parking passes and another half dozen club level seats are also made available to the Metropolitan Football Stadium District Board, according to a spokesman for the Metro stadium board.
“Is it that some people feel it’s a perk? That’s fine,” said board member Gene Ciancio, who represents Adams County and bristled at the idea of being forced to give the suite away to other organizations.
A CBS4 Investigation revealed that the board members- one from each metro county, two appointed by the Governor, and the chairman- were sharing the suite for the opening regular season Bronco game and playoff games and then each board member was getting the entire suite for their own use for a single Bronco game.
“I think it’s absolutely an unnecessary perk,” said State Senator Lois Tochtrop when she learned of the arrangement. “You don’t take perks like that . It’s ethics in government.”
Tochtrop is a Democrat representing Adams County.
Tochtrop suggested since the stadium was essentially paid for by the public, the board should give the suite back to the community and allow schools, non-profits and charities to use the suite instead of individual board members, their friends and families.
“Just because you are a board member,” said Tochtrop, “doesn’t mean you should get extra perks.”
By a 6-1 vote Thursday morning, with two members absent, the stadium board essentially voted to maintain the status quo and continue awarding the suite to individual board members for Broncos games for their discretionary use.
They agreed to begin supplying the names of who they bring to the Broncos games in the name of “transparency.”
Board Chairman Ray Baker said he estimated that 40 to 50 percent of the suite seats are already being funneled to charities.
Joy Burns, an appointee of the Governor, said she saw nothing wrong with board members getting the suite and using it as they see fit.
“I think this board works very hard and looks after taxpayer interest all the way,” said Burns.
Board Member Norm Early also rejected the idea of being forced to give up the suite.
“Now somebody is trying to make it look pernicious like we are doing something wrong and whether we capitulate to that,” said Early.
He said even if a board member opts to give the suite away to a charity for a game, “the board member… ought to be present in the suite since people can tear it up.”
Several other board members agreed with Early.
“I do think it would be irresponsible not to go,” said Ciancio, “and make sure the suite is protected.”
Board Chairman Ray Baker said, “We have yet to have a suite trashed in 11 or 12 years.”
The only board member voting against keeping the suite was Roy Palmer.
“I think perception and times are changing,” said Palmer, an Xcel Energy executive. “And just the perception that somehow there’s all these expensive tickets floating around- I’m going to vote against the motion. I do think it’s important for us to consider the perception.”
Palmer cautioned that if the board opted to keep the suite for their own use, ”I don’t think this will be the end of the story.”