Jay Noddle is the newest member of the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority board.
The Omaha City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to appoint the developer to the board, which oversees the CenturyLink Center and TD Ameritrade Park.
Council members said selecting Noddle from a field of four finalists was a tough process. The finalists also included philanthropist Susie Buffett, certified public accountant Frank Hayes and Paul Smith, an executive with the energy company Tenaska.
Though they cast votes for Noddle, some council members said they’d like to see the other contenders on the board, and that they’d like to expand the board to allow for a more diverse membership.
Noddle’s selection marked the end of weeks of public scrutiny over the resignation of former board member Jamie Gutierrez Mora and the process to find her replacement. Gutierrez Mora stepped down in September after questions were raised about her eligibility to serve with MECA.
The developer was the first name to get public attention, with letters submitted on his behalf from the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and several prominent Omahans, including philanthropist Ken Stinson of Kiewit Corp., Douglas County Board member Mary Ann Borgeson and former Omaha Mayor P.J. Morgan.
Before the vote, Noddle and the three other finalists each addressed the council, outlining their qualifications and noting any potential conflicts of interest.
Noddle noted that he is a business partner of Dana Bradford, another MECA board member. But he said that connection wouldn’t play a role in his service on the board.
“I will not let a business relationship with a project that’s maybe not even in Omaha have anything to do with the quality and thoroughness of my decision making,” he said.
While on the board, Noddle said he and his company would not pursue any downtown projects to avoid any conflicts.
Councilman Franklin Thompson cast the lone vote against Noddle’s appointment. He said he was impressed by all four candidates and made his decision based on the finalists’ presentations at Tuesday’s meeting. He said two candidates stood out, but he did not elaborate.
Councilman Ben Gray said he supported Buffett through much of the process. But inspired by an unrelated set of events related to the development of a north Omaha Walmart, Gray said he’d been reminded of the importance of “when you give your word to someone.”
“I had given my word to Jay before I knew that Susie and Frank had even entered the contest,” he said. “I think all of us here understand the importance of keeping your word.”
Gray said he is looking into the process of expanding the MECA board in the near future.