Update: Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday to be the interim chair fo the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. Read the updated story here.
Gov. Mark Dayton will announce an interim chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) on Thursday, putting the beleaguered U.S. Bank Stadium oversight panel en route for two new leaders by the end of the week.
It’s been only a week since Michele Kelm-Helgen, MSFA chairwoman, and Ted Mondale, the executive director, resigned from the board amid legislative pressure — their tenures irrevocably tainted by the use of publicly owned luxury suites to play host to friends and family.
After Dayton appoints a successor to Kelm-Helgen, his former top aide and his appointee to the MSFA, the board will be in position to hire an interim executive director at the regularly scheduled monthly meeting Friday. Under the current structure, Dayton appoints the chair; the board then hires the executive director.
Dayton’s office didn’t reveal details of the announcement or the identity of his appointee, but his choice will steer the board out of an embarrassing stretch. The incoming chair will be key to shaping the governance and financial structure of the stadium operation and pivoting toward the 2017 Vikings season as well as Super Bowl 52 next February.
Kelm-Helgen, Mondale and three current MSFA board members ran afoul of public sentiment when the Star Tribune revealed in November that they had helped themselves, friends and family to tickets in the two 18-person taxpayer-funded luxury suites for Vikings games, concerts and soccer matches since the building opened in August. The stadium is an especially sensitive project because it was built with $498 million in taxpayer money.
The board’s suite use quickly came under scrutiny from the legislative auditor and the GOP-led Legislature. The three board members who were also involved are Northland Foundation President Tony Sertich, Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy and Capella University Executive Dean Barbara Butts Williams.
Auditor Jim Nobles released a report two weeks ago saying the MSFA had failed to follow the law by not tracking the names of their guests in the suites and violated a core ethical principle in using their public offices for personal benefit.
Last week, two House committees voted overwhelmingly for sweeping changes in the composition of the MSFA. Kelm-Helgen and Mondale announced their departures Thursday.
The only current board member not connected to the suite misuse is former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz. Dayton appointed her last month to fill a vacancy created when the governor declined to reappoint John Griffith, a former Target executive who had been critical of Kelm-Helgen.
GOP leaders have said they would like to have a new board in place by July 1, but that hinges on the passage of legislation.