A four-hour hearing last Tuesday allowed Minnesota legislators to ask dozens of hard-hitting questions about the use of U.S. Bank Stadium luxury suites by the public facility’s governing board and executive director. But one important question regrettably went unaired: Why weren’t all members of the board in attendance?

The $1.1 billion stadium is a unique, expensive public resource. Taxpayers footed just under half its price tag. The five-member Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority board — consisting of three gubernatorial appointees and two Minneapolis mayoral appointees — has been entrusted by Minnesotans with stadium ownership, construction and operation. Yet when the stadium’s oversight is the subject of a sharply critical Office of the Legislative Auditor’s report, only Board Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen could be bothered to show up and face lawmakers?

The board members’ absence is even more frustrating considering their suite ticket giveaways to family and friends (excluding new appointee Kathleen Blatz) is what triggered the auditor’s report and the joint Minnesota House and Senate hearing. Revelations about the personal use of the two “Norseman” suites by board members, as well as by stadium executive director Ted Mondale, first surfaced in a Nov. 28 Star Tribune story by Rochelle Olson. Mondale, who is not a member of the board, did appear at the Tuesday hearing.

The story outraged Minnesotans and prompted Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles to conduct a special review. In a report last week, Nobles concluded that the suites’ use had not broken any state laws — mainly because pertinent statutes do not appear to apply to the board’s unusual public-­private structure. But on Tuesday, Nobles testified that Kelm-Helgen, Mondale and board members had violated a “core ethical principle” by using their positions to obtain personal privileges for family and friends.

Marketing the stadium is a key justification given by Kelm-Helgen and Mondale for the suites’ use. The report concluded that only 29 percent of the 352 suite tickets available to them clearly had been used for this business purpose.

The board and Mondale have put in place a new suite-use policy, but Nobles’ office concluded the policy didn’t go far enough. Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, and other GOP lawmakers merit credit for introducing legislation to crack down harder.

Rosen’s bill is a good starting place to consider the stadium’s future oversight and that of other Minnesota’s sports facilities. The legislation only addresses U.S. Bank Stadium. But policy changes should include other facilities, such as Target Field, that have similar practices for suite use by its public authority. The bill also addresses personnel changes by calling to eliminate Kelm-Helgen’s position. Questions have long abounded about whether both Mondale and Kelm-Helgen are needed. This issue should be explored carefully in future hearings, with a focus on each executive’s duties and job performance, before a decision is made.

Debate over this duo’s future shouldn’t overshadow scrutiny of the board. Members’ absence at Tuesday’s hearing speaks volumes about their faulty sense of priorities. Not only did the board fail to rein in the ethical lapses, its members enthusiastically brought in friends and family. But when it came to time to face lawmakers, no one but Kelm-Helgen could make it. The weak excuse? The rest of the board members didn’t get a specific invitation.

If the current board’s five political appointees failed to add value, how would a seven-member board of mostly political appointees, as Rosen’s bill calls for, do so? Future hearings should dive into whether the board itself is necessary. Would it work simply to have one nonpolitical executive who relies on SMG, the private firm hired to manage stadium operations, and reports regularly to lawmakers and the governor?

It should be noted that Gov. Mark Dayton’s statement last week on this issue was unhelpful. He offered a shrill, partisan defense of Kelm-­Helgen and Mondale, two prominent DFLers. Dayton needs to accept that the current stadium’s leadership has lost the public’s trust. He should be at the forefront of rebuilding it.

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