The executive director of U.S. Bank Stadium’s public oversight body tearfully announced his surprise retirement Friday, citing health reasons.
Rick Evans has been the executive director of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) since spring. When he leaves at the end of the year, he will have been in the job eight months. “I wish I could stay longer. For obvious reasons, I won’t,” a weepy Evans said at the end of the regularly scheduled authority meeting as chairman Mike Vekich rubbed his back.
Evans, 68 and a retired lawyer, was brought onto the MSFA by interim chairwoman Kathleen Blatz. He had called Blatz after she was appointed to the post to express interest in getting the oversight board back on track after months of backlash.
Former MSFA executive director Ted Mondale and chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen had resigned in February after public backlash over their use of two publicly funded luxury suites for their friends and family.
Blatz said at the time she was immediately impressed with his credentials and demeanor.
Vekich said he will begin a search for a replacement immediately in consultation with the four other MSFA board members. Hiring for the $160,000-a-year job is one of the most important things the board does, Vekich said.
The MSFA has a $40 million annual operating budget and oversees the major management and concessions contracts at the state-owned stadium.
The stadium, built at a cost of $1.1 billion, opened in August 2016. State taxpayers covered half the cost of the stadium, which remains the largest public-private project in Minnesota history.