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With the legislative battle now history, the first major step toward erecting a downtown Minneapolis stadium for the Minnesota Vikings came Thursday when Gov. Mark Dayton appointed one of his top aides to oversee development of the nearly $1 billion project.
Dayton named Michele Kelm-Helgen, his deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs, as chairwoman for the newly created five-member Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. The authority, which could meet publicly for the first time as early as next week, will work in step with the Vikings on nearly every phase of a massive construction project that promises to reshape the downtown skyline for decades.
Joining Kelm-Helgen on the newly created authority are:
•John Griffith, 50, executive vice president of property development for Target Corp., who lobbied the Minneapolis City Council and state legislators in recent months in support of the stadium financing deal.
•Duane Benson, 66, a former NFL linebacker, state legislator and GOP Senate minority leader from Lanesboro, Minn., who served as executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership from 1994 to 2003. While there, Benson worked with Lester Bagley, who is now a Vikings vice president.
•Bill McCarthy, president of the AFL-CIO Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.
•Barbara Butts-Williams, 63, dean of the School of Education at Capella University, Minneapolis.