Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey expects to announce a negotiated deal Thursday to recoup $100,000 from Target Center operator ASM Global for the cost of hosting President Donald Trump's October 2019 rally at the city-owned arena.
"We are recovering half of what we can get under the law," Frey said, adding: "We have a duty to protect free speech, but we don't have a duty to subsidize it."
The deal is subject to City Council approval and could come up for a vote as soon as Feb. 12.
Before Trump touched down in Minneapolis for the rally, there was public sparring among the Republican president's campaign, the DFL mayor and arena operator ASM over who would pay the security costs for the event. The city contracts with Los Angeles-based ASM to run Target Center.
Both before and after the rally, Frey said the cost for security and road closures would top $530,000 and vowed to seek reimbursement. The Trump campaign threatened to sue over the cost. Now it appears the city will recoup less than a fifth of that cost.
In 2019, city officials sent ASM, then operating as AEG, an invoice for $208,770 for the cost of providing security inside and around Target Center's secure perimeter during the event. If the City Council agrees to Frey's deal, ASM will pay $100,000 of that bill in installments over three years.
Assistant City Attorney Ivan Ludmer said the negotiations with ASM over the bill occurred over the past year, with ASM officials initially taking the position that they "weren't responsible at all."
In a written statement Wednesday, Hugh Lombardi, vice president of ASM Global and general manager at Target Center, said: "We are pleased to be able to assist the city in covering some of its costs in providing municipal services, and to provide input as to how city services for future campaign events will be handled. As operators of the Target Center, we never lose sight of our public partnership."
The security cost is separate from the $156,000 that the Trump campaign paid ASM to rent Target Center for the event.
As part of the city's negotiated deal with ASM over the Trump rally, Frey said that from now on the city will discuss security costs in advance with venue operators and will have the ability to set the tab for the charges up front, before the event is booked.
"This gives us the leverage and ability to protect taxpayer dollars and not get run over by campaigns like Trump's," he said.
During the 2019 rally, the president was joined onstage by Police Federation President Bob Kroll. Hundreds of police officers were stationed both inside the 19,356-seat Target Center and throughout much of downtown's west end, including nearby skyways and streets that were filled with supporters and protesters.
Thousands attended the event and cheered Trump, while protests — acrimonious but mostly peaceful — occurred around the arena for hours after the rally ended.
A month after the rally, Frey calculated the cost to the city at $542,733, including police overtime, public works crews and road barriers. At the time, he attributed most of that expense — $392,139 — to police costs.
But under the U.S. Constitution's free speech protections, cities cannot charge a speaker at a political event for the cost of managing protesters who are outside, because that could chill their rights of expression.
So the city's $100,000 settlement will recoup the costs of security inside Target Center and its immediate perimeter.
Frey said he will encourage Congress to allocate money to the Secret Service that can be used to help municipalities cover the cost of hosting large political rallies.
The mayor's office said it believes that Minneapolis is the first city to recoup security costs after the fact, but he acknowledged that other cities may have received the payments up front.
ASM Global also operates the state-owned U.S. Bank Stadium on the other end of downtown, though each venue has its own staff and contracts.