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Minnesota Sports and Events’ $50 million funding request survives committee hearing

Minnesota Sports and Events' $50 million funding request survives committee hearing

A request for $50 million in state funding from Minnesota Sports and Events (MNSE) is alive in the Legislature.

MNSE CEO Wendy Blackshaw said Wednesday at the House Finance and Economic Development Policy that without state funding, MNSE would have to stop bidding on events like the Final Fours and Olympic Trials. Such events shine a “global spotlight and bring millions of tourism and hospitality dollars” to Minnesota, she said.

Rep. Kaohly Wang Her, DFL-St. Paul and Blackshaw said the game has changed. Previously, Minnesota relied on corporate sponsorships after receiving a bid; now, states must have funds in the bank when bidding on an event.

MNSE is bidding for the 2024 USA Gymnastics Olympics, where Minnesota’s Suni Lee is expected to compete.

She said she considers the funding request a jobs and economic development bill. She amended it in committee and required MNSE to report to the state on how the money was spent and used.

Rep. Jon Koznick, R-Lakeville, said he was a bit concerned about the cost but liked the responsibility.

“This is a rare account where we will be able to measure the return on investment,” he said.

The proposal is one of many the panel will consider for inclusion in a larger bill later in the session.

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