Former state Sen. Ted Mondale gained the lead spot Friday on the commission that operates the Metrodome, giving him a role in the debate over a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Mondale the chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.
The most pressing issue before the commission is how to fix the Dome's collapsed roof. The roof fell under the weight of snow in December but may take until spring to repair. Also, the Vikings' Metrodome lease expires after the coming season.
In a news release, Dayton described Mondale as "uniquely qualified" to lead the commission at a critical time.
"His exceptional dedication to public service, his business experience and his established relationships with key decision-makers will enable him to represent the best interests of the people of Minnesota in attempting to negotiate a new 'People's Stadium,'" Dayton said.
In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio News, Mondale said Dayton has made it clear he supports a new football stadium if the public benefits outweigh the public cost.
"I'd like to think my appointment as somebody who's led some fairly complicated projects, like the light rail transit line, through the different government entities is a sign that he's serious," said Mondale.
Even with the state facing a large budget deficit, Mondale said he believes the time is right to reach a stadium deal this year.
"I think it's now time for the business groups, the Vikings, the Legislature to hopefully come to some agreement, and bring together a proposal that we can all get around and the governor can sign," said Mondale.
A Vikings official said earlier this week the team would be willing to pay for one-third of an open-air stadium, but Mondale said it's clear a new facility would need a roof.
The sports facilities commission consists of seven members, six of whom are appointed by the Minneapolis City Council.
Mondale is the son of former vice president Walter Mondale.
He was chairman of the Metropolitan Council, a regional planning council, under then-Gov. Jesse Ventura. He served in Minnesota's Senate from 1991 to 1996. More recently, he has served as chief executive of a software company that automates property searches for the mortgage industry.
Mondale last ran for office in 1998, when he finished fifth in a Democratic gubernatorial primary that also included Dayton.