The leadership void that opened last week at the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) began to close Thursday, in reassuring fashion. Former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz is returning to public life after an 11-year hiatus to take the MSFA reins on an interim basis.
Gov. Mark Dayton did well to recruit someone well-known and respected by both political parties to a position that for several months has been a hot seat. Last week, Michele Kelm-Helgen resigned as chair of the board that oversees U.S. Bank Stadium — as did its executive director, Ted Mondale — as criticism mounted over their practice last fall of hosting friends and family in MSFA-controlled suites at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Blatz, 62, a former Independent-Republican legislator and the state’s first female chief justice, had only last month been appointed to the MSFA governing board. But already last week, she appeared to be taking charge of the abruptly leaderless organization, exhibiting the know-how of a veteran of public-sector administration and governance.
She’ll accept no salary as interim chair, she said Thursday. “This is public service.” A desire to serve runs deep in her. She’s the daughter of a 14-year state senator, the late Jerome Blatz, and the widow of Wheelock Whitney, a longtime civic activist who ran twice for statewide office and died last May. Blatz became better acquainted with professional sports through Whitney, who at various times served on the boards of the Minnesota Vikings, Twins and North Stars.
Blatz said she comes to the interim post as an “agnostic” about the future structure of the MSFA. Its restructuring is under discussion in the Legislature. We hope she won’t remain silent on the question for long. As both a legislator and a jurist, Blatz exhibited the kind of sound judgment about public endeavors that readily inspired trust. And a rapid rebound in trust is much needed at the MSFA as it prepares U.S. Bank Stadium to host the 2018 Super Bowl.