Photo: KSTP/Justin Haugesag
Photo: KSTP/Justin Haugesag
February 23, 2017 10:29 AM
Gov. Mark Dayton named Kathleen Blatz as the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority's interim chair, after a controversy over U.S. Bank Stadium suite use led to two key resignations on the board.
"Through her decades of service as Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and in the Minnesota Legislature, Kathleen Blatz has demonstrated her exceptional commitment to advancing public interest," Dayton said in a statement. "Already, her work on the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority Board has helped to inspire trust in the people of Minnesota, that the MSFA will continue to provide excellent public service to the people of Minnesota. I am grateful for Ms. Blatz for agreeing to take on this important role."
Blatz will takeover after current chair Michele Kelm-Helgen's last day on March 8. Kelm-Helgen submitted her resignation on a week ago, and MSFA CEO and Executive Director Ted Mondale resigned hours later.
The two top leaders of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority have both resigned amid weeks of criticism about how luxury suites were used at U.S. Bank Stadium for friends and family.
An auditor investigated the use of two luxury suites and discovered a third suite.
"We discovered during this review with some help from some legislative staff that the authority actually does have a third suite," Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles testified. "I think this was a complete surprise to the legislature and legislators that they had in their budget this $300,000 of expenditure. I think that's frankly something they should have taken the initiative to bring to you."
Noble revealed the arrangement to state lawmakers while discussing his report on the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. He said the authority paid the team $1.5 million over five years for the third space.
Kelm-Helgen said the suite lease was approved in a public meeting and nothing was done secretly.
As a result of the findings, the House State Government Finance Committee voted 16-1 in favor of a bill that would bring major changes to the MSFA board operation and member selection.
Blatz said in a statement, "I am honored to continue my service to the MSFA and the people of Minnesota as Interim Chair. The MSFA plays an important role in the operation and oversight of U.S. Bank Stadium, and I look forward to continuing to work for our citizens and with MSFA Board members, to ensure the excellent functioning of this important public facility."
Blatz was appointed to Minnesota's highest court in 1994, and became the chief justice just four years later. Blatz made history as Minnesota's first female chief justice.
The MSFA was established in 2012 and oversaw the design, construction and operation of U.S. Bank Stadium.
Updated: February 23, 2017 10:29 AM
Created: February 23, 2017 09:43 AM
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