While the Alabama Crimson Tide was beating LSU 21-0 in the BCS national championship game in the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Jan. 9, 2012, U.S. Sen. David Vitter was entertaining a number of guests in one of the Superdome’s 152 luxury suites—at a hefty cost, LouisianaVoice has learned.
Vitter, who apparently gained access to the suite through corporate largesse, took full advantage of the occasion to charge guests $4,000 per seat, according to one person who was there.
Ticket scalping laws vary from state to state and in Louisiana:
- Tickets cannot be sold at more than their face value price except on the Internet;
- Tickets for university sporting events cannot be sold online by Louisiana legislators or university students;
- Tickets can be resold online at greater than their face value price if approved by both the event operator (NCAA) and the venue operator (the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District).
The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED), the governing board of the Superdome, owns one of the suites and the remaining 151 are owned not by the State of Louisiana, but by the New Orleans Saints (a windfall of some $10 million to the Saints) and leased for annual lease fees ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 per year, a LSED spokesperson told LouisianaVoice. All 151 suites are under lease to private entities, according to information obtained from the Saints office.
Sixty-four suites are located on the 400 level of the Superdome and offer a range of 22 to 40 seats per suite. The remaining 88 suites are located on the 300 level and offer 16 to 20 seats per suite, according to the stadium’s web page.
Vitter failed to respond to three email inquiries from LouisianaVoice that asked:
- Who (corporate entity or individual) provided you access to a luxury box for that game?
- What was the seating capacity for that luxury box at that game?
- How many guests did you entertain in that luxury box for that game?
He also was asked to identify those in attendance as his guests in the suite for the game.
Depending on the number of seats available and allowing that all seats except for those for Vitter and his family were sold, he could have netted between $50,000 and $150,000 for that event.
Federal election laws place a cap on individual political contributions. That cap varies but in 2012, it was $2,500. Federal laws also prohibit direct contributions to federal candidates from corporations. The $4,000 price would have exceeded the maximum allowable contribution.
While Vitter’s campaign contributions for the time period encompassing the LSU-Alabama game list no individual contributions that would appear to be connected to the sale of seats, corporations may make unlimited contributions to the so-called Super PACs.
Vitter’s Super Pac, the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, raised $1.5 million last year, according to Washington, D.C., fundraiser Charlie Spies.