The chairman of the public oversight panel at U.S. Bank Stadium received a nearly 60% raise Monday that brought his salary to $95,000, an amount that board members said more accurately reflects his workload.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) board unanimously approved the increase for Michael Vekich at its regular monthly meeting Monday. Board members said he works 32 hours a week on the job and acts as prime spokesman and contact for the board, and noted that while he now will be paid more his hourly rate will be the same because of the number of hours he actually works.
The raise for Vekich, who had been making $60,000 a year, comes on top of increases approved in August for the MSFA’s full-time staffers.
Executive Director James Farstad’s salary increased to $174,500 from $165,333, an increase of 5.5%; Finance Director Mary Fox-Stroman is now paid $150,392, up from $141,763, an increase of 6.1%; staff accountant Sue Arcand received a pay bump to $72,472 from $68,313, an increase of 6.1%; and project coordinator Elizabeth Proeitz now earns $69,540, up from $66,841, an increase of 4%.
In June, Vekich eliminated the full-time position of communications director, a post that paid about $100,000. The board still has a contract worth up to $36,000 annually with a communications consultant. MSFA board members, who are appointed by the governor and Minneapolis city officials, are not paid.
Vekich took over as chairman of the MSFA in July 2017 from former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz. She had held the job for nearly six months after Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen was ousted over misuse of publicly held luxury suites in the first months after the stadium opened in August 2016.
Blatz took a $60,000 annual salary for the job, considered to be 20 hours a week, and Kelm-Helgen had been making more than double that amount.
The chair of the board that ran the Metrodome was considered part time, but under Kelm-Helgen the MSFA chair position was paid on a full-time basis. That move became somewhat controversial by the end of her tenure, as her salary and that of then-Executive Director Ted Mondale together approached $300,000.
The MSFA oversees U.S. Bank Stadium on behalf of taxpayers and works closely with the Minnesota Vikings, the stadium’s main tenant. The MSFA has contracted with global events company SMG to book shows and events in the building, and to contract with concessionaires and security providers.
Across downtown at Target Field, Minnesota Ballpark Authority (MBA) Executive Director Dan Kenney earns roughly the same taxpayer-funded salary as Farstad now does. The operational structure is different at Target Field where the Twins, the primary tenant, play 81 games a year. The Twins also run the building’s operations, including concessions and security. MBA board members are not paid.
Also Monday, Angela Burns Finney of St. Paul attended her first MSFA meeting as the successor to Laura Bishop, who joined Gov. Tim Walz’s administration in January as Minnesota Pollution Control Agency commissioner.
Burns Finney, of St. Paul, works as a tax marketing manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Minneapolis, a professional services firm. She is a St. Paul native who graduated from Central High School and Macalester College, and is active in community governance organizations.
Burns Finney joins MSFA board members Barbara Butts Williams, Bill McCarthy and Tony Sertich.