Metzen withdraws from ballpark race

University Regent David Metzen withdrew shortly before the elections.

by Courtney Blanchard

The Minnesota Ballpark Authority on Friday selected Dan Kenney for the position of executive director, after a noteworthy candidate withdrew from the race.

University Regent David Metzen dropped out of contention Aug. 2.

“It wasn’t a good fit,” Metzen said.

Metzen is part-owner of American Bank, is a leadership consultant, and works with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board in addition to his duties as a regent.

“I’m at an age where I need a two-week vacation each year,” the 64-year-old said.

Luke Neuville, political science senior and vice chairman of the faculty, staff and student affairs committee, said, “He’s just a leader: very intelligent, very well-spoken.”

Neuville also serves as a student representative to the Board of Regents, selected by Minnesota Student Assocation members. Reacting to Metzen’s withdrawal from the race, he said, “That’s unfortunate. I think he could have done a great job.”

Kenney, the new director, will oversee the construction of the Minnesota Twins baseball stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

Kenney previously served as chief of staff to County Commissioner Mike Opat.

Kenney said he wasn’t familiar with Metzen and didn’t know he had dropped out of the race.

He underlined experience as one of the biggest reasons he will do an excellent job as director of the ballpark authority. He worked in local government for years and said he has a big interest in urban planning and design.

Kenney was appointed to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission in 2003.

Steve Maki, another contender for the stadium authority, said he didn’t know much about Metzen besides what he read in the news but that he was impressed with his background.

“If Dave Metzen was one of the finalists, I would have been honored to be considered in his company,” he said.

Maki also stressed experience as his biggest qualificiation for candidacy. He said he is familiar with the challenges of the position from his current job as director of facilities and engineering for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission and overseeing the Metrodome.

“Those are the kind of tasks I’m used to,” he said.

Candidate Robb Randle could not be reached for comment.

Metzen was a school superintendent in South St. Paul for 18 years before becoming a regent at the University.

“The regent position is absolutely my highest priority,” Metzen said.

He said one of the biggest challenges facing the University is the implementation of University President Bob Bruininks’s realignment of the University. He said the regents need to keep Bruininks around as long as possible.

“He’s one of the greatest presidents we’ve had at the University,” he said.

Metzen won’t miss out on stadium planning, however. As the chairman of the facility committee, he will oversee the beginning of construction for the TCF Bank Stadium.