U.S. Bank Stadium Panel Mulls Salary, Ethics Changes

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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)


U.S. Bank Stadium's governing body will consider pay raises and new ethical standards for staff members Thursday as it begins to reshape oversight of the building.

Among the proposed changes to be considered Thursday by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) are instituting a salary cap of $60,000 for the committee's chairperson and hiring a project manager to oversee capital improvements.

Interim Chairwoman Kathleen Blatz said of the changes, "We're coming out of the start-up phase and moving much more into stadium operations."

The stadium will have been open for one year on Aug. 3. In addition to hosting the 2016 Vikings season, concerts and the X Games next month, the $1.1 billion taxpayer-subsidized building's operations already have endured upheaval.

Former Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen and Executive Director Ted Mondale were ousted in February after revelations they used high-end luxury suites to entertain friends, family and political allies, spending $32,000 in public money on food in the first several months.

Blatz, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, has been volunteer chairwoman since the two high-profile departures.

A $60,000 cap for the chairwoman's position would be less than half of what Kelm-Helgen was paid at the end of her tenure. The proposal would make clear the position is part time. Blatz "has no intention" of taking the position herself, she said. While Kelm-Helgen exercised tight control over most stadium operations, Blatz has delegated many responsibilities to Rick Evans, the executive director the board hired this spring.

Under the new proposal, the chairperson would be responsible for relationships with government and convention agencies as well as ensuring adherence to state laws and overseeing the budget and contracts.

The MSFA also will be asked Thursday to require staff to adhere to state law that prohibits participation in political activities at work. The recommendation was part of legislation that didn't survive the recent session.

Blatz, however, said it made sense for the board to make that change on its own.

Also on the agenda Thursday are pay raises of 4.5 percent for four staff members: director of finance Mary Fox-Stroman, director of communications Jenn Hathaway, project coordinator Elizabeth Brady and a finance assistant. (Evans earns $165,333 and is not receiving a raise.)

Currently, Fox-Stroman earns $131,707, Hathaway earns $97,995, Brady earns $60,000 and the finance assistant earns $29.34 an hour. The staff last had a raise in January 2016.

The new position of project manager would focus on what sorts of capital projects need to be done, issuing requests for proposals, taking bids and overseeing the work. The position would pay $90,000 plus benefits.

"It's the MSFA's job to protect the public investment in the stadium, and we believe that having this expertise in-house helps us with that," Hathaway said in a statement.

Rochelle Olson · 612-673-1747

Twitter: @rochelleolson

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June 21, 2017


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