Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton named former state lawmaker Ted Mondale last week to serve as head of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission board. The post puts him at the center of negotiations with the Legislature and the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings, who want a new stadium.
The commission is the public owner and operator of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Vikings are the sole tenant although collegiate and youth sporting events are also staged there. The stadium’s former tenants — Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins and the University of Minnesota’s football team — have won legislative approval for new, partially publicly funded stadiums, but similar support has eluded the Vikings.
Dayton said that Mondale’s exceptional dedication to public service, business experience, and established relationships with key decision-makers will enable him to represent the best interests of the people of Minnesota in the stadium negotiations.
Mondale, the son of former Vice President Walter Mondale, previously managed the Twin Cities development agency known as the Metropolitan Council.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission was established in 1977 to manage construction of the bond-financed Metrodome. Its seven-member board includes six people that are appointed by the Minneapolis City Council. The chair is appointed by the governor.
The Vikings lease expires this year and the team has said it will cover a third of the cost of a new, roofless stadium. It’s unclear whether lawmakers will support such a funding commitment, especially since many favor an indoor stadium like the Metrodome.
Dayton has said he could support public funding if the public benefits were substantial. While the Vikings plan to push for legislative review of a funding plan, lawmakers have said they want first to deal with a $6 billion budget gap.
The December collapse of the Metrodome’s roof may add some momentum to the Vikings drive for a new home. The collapse caused two home games to be relocated. The Vikings lost both contests.