As the Ballpark Authority met for the second time Aug. 21, the five-member organization that will own and oversee the development of the new Twins stadium settled questions about one member's eligibility and discussed the qualifications they would like to see candidates possess for the staff positions of executive director and project manager.
Authority member and State Rep. Barb Sykora (R-33B) announced that she will remain on the Ballpark Authority as a nonvoting member until she resigns early from the House sometime in the next few months, likely in September. Sykora was not seeking re-election this fall, but questions about her eligibility to serve on the Ballpark Authority emerged just days before the organization's first meeting on July 7 because state law prohibits legislators from holding another office.
Members then discussed filling the newly created positions of executive director and project manager. Applications for both positions were due last week, and the Authority is expected to appoint an executive director at its Aug. 4 meeting in order to meet a deadline outlined in the stadium legislation. Hiring an executive director is important because, once that position is filled, the process of beginning the financing of the stadium will begin. Because of the tight timeline, Ballpark Authority Chair Steve Cramer said he isn't sure whether the authority should appoint an interim executive director until members have had time to conduct a thorough search process or if a permanent director should be hired within the next few weeks. Cramer said he will review the applications - which were due July 24- and get a better sense of whether one of those applicants could become the permanent director.
“I'll be in close contact with everyone about what that pool looks like and where we want to move from there,” Cramer said.
Authority member Joan Campbell, a former Minneapolis City Councilmember appointed by the city, said she's not comfortable with the idea of an interim executive director. She said she would like to find a permanent director to begin with.
“If we're not comfortable with who we hire, we could always fire them,” she said.
Campbell said she wants to see someone with enormous people skills in the executive director position. Authority member Mike Vekich agreed, noting that he does not think the group should rush into the selection for this position. He said it is an unusual position that will require a great amount of business acumen and people skills.
Cramer said the executive director hired will have to help members build the newly formed Authority.
“There's an awful lot that escapes the capacity of and really shouldn't be the role of a governmental body,” Cramer said.
The Ballpark Authority also added a standard feature to its agenda that will allow public comment at the beginning of every meeting. If there is a decision to be made on a major issue, Cramer said the Authority will set a public hearing.
Members of the Authority also discussed the progress of a development agreement, which the Twins and Hennepin County are working out. The Twins are currently interviewing and will select a primary and local architect; Campbell is sitting in on these interviews.
Authority members also took action on the matter of their own pay: they will each receive $55 for each day they spend working on activities for the organization.
The next meeting of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority will be held Aug. 4 from noon-3 p.m. at the Hennepin County Environmental Services Building, 417 N. 5th St., Suite 320, located next to the new ballpark site.