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Two Dayton Cronies to Keep High Paying Stadium Jobs

The new Vikings stadium construction may be over now, but apparently there’s still a lot of work to do. Yet it’s no easy job explaining why it takes two well-connected DFL insiders who get paid roughly $300,000 between them to oversee one stadium.  And that’s before figuring in generous taxpayer-funded benefits and the perks of hosting the Super Bowl and Final Four.

Just the same, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority board is expected to rubber stamp new job descriptions for MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen and Executive Director Ted Mondale at today’s monthly meeting.TopOff14

Never mind that SMG, one of the biggest names in the sports and entertainment business, is already in charge of marketing and running US Bank Stadium. The duo will be retained anyway with Kelm-Helgen in charge of marketing and Mondale in charge of operations.

Their qualifications include two of the DFL’s most admired political pedigrees, according to a skeptical account in the Star Tribune.

Both Mondale and Kelm-Helgen have strong ties to Dayton. Mondale was the governor’s lead negotiator on the stadium until the law passed in 2012 and he was hired to work with the MSFA. Kelm-Helgen was an aide to the governor when he tapped her in June 2012 to lead the board. Dayton, Mondale and Kelm-Helgen’s political roots are entwined with the DFL Party through their fathers.

Asked about the proposed division of the MSFA duties, Dayton’s only comment was that Kelm-Helgen and Mondale deserve thanks for their completing the project on budget and on time.

Among other heavy-lifting, Mondale will oversee the stadium parking lot and referee high school and college baseball tilts at the stadium.

Kelm-Helgen’s job description shows why she compares her responsibilities to another jewel of big government —the Met Council. It calls for her to spend more time on “government interface and compliance coordination” among state, county and local agencies than anything else.

But will the new arrangement put an end the behind-the-scenes bickering between the two political insiders?

The dual roles of Kelm-Helgen and Mondale have been a point of contention because of concerns about overlapping duties, distribution of power and her lower salary. The roles are a shift from the Metrodome, where oversight involved one full-time executive director and a part-time chair who earned less than half the salary. Target Field has one executive director who earns $164,317 and an unpaid committee chair.

Kelm-Helgen’s most pressure-packed task? Doling out presumably taxpayer-funded tickets to the MSFA’s two suites.

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