Go-to guy Vekich to head Vikings stadium board

Michael Vekich, an accountant whom Minnesota governors seem to have on speed dial when they need to fill a post, was named Thursday to lead the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority that runs the $1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium.

Michael Vekich is the new chairman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which oversees U.S. Bank Stadium. Photo courtesy of governor’s office

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Vekich to replace interim chair Kathleen Blatz at the helm of a board that attracted intense scrutiny earlier in the year for member perks. His term will run through January 2019.

The coming year is a big one for the stadium, best known as the home of football’s Vikings, because the Super Bowl will be held there in February and college basketball’s Final Four is not far behind in 2019.

The five-member MSFA has three appointees of the governor and two by the city of Minneapolis. A move to overhaul the entity consumed plenty of debate in the Legislature this spring but stalled.

The push came amid a controversy over the use of stadium suites by members, their friends and family members. Two top officials with the authority resigned as questions and criticism swirled. A new day-to-day manager was installed this spring.

Dayton also named Best Buy executive Laura Bishop to another MSFA opening.

Vekich, of St. Louis Park, is accustomed to coming into government posts when the glare is hot.

Dayton turned to Vekich to manage the Minnesota Lottery on an interim basis after the abrupt resignation of the executive director in 2016; that short-term gig lasted longer than expected and he handed over the reins to a new boss just this spring.

Vekich was a member of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority when the Twins stadium was being built and remained there into the field’s first year. Then-Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty also put him in charge of the state Board of Accountancy, a task force on tax policy and a Rochester higher education authority.

He’s currently chair of the Minnesota State university board of trustees after being appointed to that panel by Dayton.

A Republican, Vekich briefly ran for governor himself in 2002 but made way for Pawlenty in the race.