An impressive comeback, quarterbacked by a savvy veteran, is taking place at U.S. Bank Stadium. But it’s got nothing to do with the Vikings.
Moving beyond the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority scandal involving the use of luxury suites by family members, friends and political figures that resulted in the departures of former Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen and former Executive Director Ted Mondale, a code of ethics and a redefinition of the role of chair were adopted at Thursday’s MSFA board meeting.
The new code will require MSFA staffers and board members to be covered by existing state rules on refraining from political activities in the context of their work. They’ll also have to operate under a state government code of ethics. The Legislature failed to mandate such changes during the recent session, but interim Chair Kathleen Blatz thought it would be wise to proactively do so.
“Minnesotans have been heard,” Blatz told an editorial writer. “There is a real oversight job to be done here by the authority. We need to not create or do things that look like we are benefiting personally from our actions, but that all our actions are done for the benefit of the people of the state. By adopting a code of conduct and by looking at my job position — the time it takes, setting a salary commensurate with those responsibilities — all of that works, I think, really to the benefit of the public.”
Blatz’s reference to reconsidering her position includes her recommendation that it become a part-time role with a maximum salary of $60,000. (Blatz, a volunteer, does not seek the job on a longer-term basis.)
The role redefinition makes sense, especially since the stadium is soon to enter its second year of operation. And the proactive adoption of an ethics code sends a message to taxpayers that lessons have been learned. Indeed, the MSFA must avoid similar instances that erode Minnesotans’ confidence that access to “the people’s stadium” isn’t just for insiders.
With the upcoming Super Bowl, next year will be perhaps the biggest ever for the stadium, and 2019 will bring an NCAA Final Four, among other events. Just outside of the stadium there’s a related building boom that adds to the city’s — and state’s — economic vitality.
Just as the suite-use issue was appropriately examined, the stadium’s success should also be noted. So, too, should the admirable efforts by Blatz, MSFA staffers and the board to build on those accomplishments.