New MSFA leadership chosen in wake of suite controversy

A few weeks after the head of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority stepped down over ethical questions, the agency now has a new leader.

The MSFA already looks drastically different than three weeks ago with former leaders, Michele Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale, now gone.

New chairwoman, Kathleen Blatz, who replaced Kelm-Helgen nominated her choice for new executive director to replace Mondale.

Retired attorney Rick Evans and former director of the state racing commission was unanimously approved by the board and promised hard work and transparency.

“In the process, I want to make sure to the extent, there’s been an erosion in the public trust in what this great body and authority has done and will do in the future,” said Evans. “I want to be part of the process in restoring that.”

“He will hit the ground running, he will be a very good negotiator on behalf of the public, a valuable resource for all of us here,” said Blatz.

Controversy blew up over revelations that two suites controlled by the Authority for marketing purposes were being filled on game days by family and friends and other VIPs.

Legislation, moving through a Senate committee, will revise the oversight with a big change that will benefit charities.

“One of the suites would be given to charity and the other one would be used for marketing/charity, but one of the suites could only be used for charity,” said Senator Julie Rosen.

The legislation wants to make sure there is a written record of every single person who gets a ticket to a suite. Legislators decided that names of charity attendees and children would remain private. An official record would be kept for the legislative auditor, who said the Authority hadn't been doing that and had been breaking the law.

“We criticized them in our report,” said Jim Nobles, a legislative auditor. “In fact, we said they did not comply with existing law by the fact they did not record who was given tickets.”