MECA Backs Off Idea To Extend Term Limits, Add Members

The Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority board voted Thursday to drop its proposal to extend terms from five years to seven and add two more members.

The changes on the board were made to add diversity and experience.

On Thursday, Board Chairman John Lund said, "What I would like to accomplish today is hit the reset button."

The button pushing took just six minutes. The board undid what it did two weeks earlier.

Lund said, "Unfortunately, we’re the brunt of all jokes. We were the ones where everyone was extending their own terms in some sort of a joke."

Board member Willie Theisen said, “The bickering has a trickle-down effect to all the people who come to this facility."

Theisen and Lund were the two board members who voted against the changes last month.

MECA is the board that guides the $400 million enterprise of fan experience in the form of the CenturyLink Center and the concerts it hosts are a big part of that.

Board member Jay Noddle said, "It's unfortunate we've had this setback but the sky is not falling."

Noddle is one of the three board members who changed his mind. He says he felt no pressure to do so but says this allows the board to slow down and get everyone on board.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said, "This day was important."

The mayor was one who voiced opposition and put MECA on legal notice

“I would be okay with a seven-member board,” she said but she added, “I think five is fine. I would not support however extending a term to seven-years."

She believed the board's initial changes violated the contract between the city and MECA and now with the course reversed, the two sides can continue to work on the bigger picture.

Lund said, “I think we're going to work towards being more transparent so that everyone feels more confident that this organization isn't full of secrets, but full of success."

Jim Vokal’s term on the board ends at the next MECA meeting later this month. The mayor has appointed Diane Duren as his replacement. Her first day on the job with the board will be May 9th. Duren is an executive with Union Pacific.

MECA is a nonprofit organization responsible for the operation of CenturyLink Center Omaha, TD Ameritrade Park Omaha and the Omaha Civic Auditorium.

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