St. Louis sports group files lawsuit to block civic vote on NFL stadium

Sports Authority files lawsuit to block a civic vote in St. Louis on whether to help finance an NFL stadium

The St. Louis Regional Complex and Sports Authority, which owns and operates the Edward Jones Dome, filed a lawsuit Friday aimed at blocking a civic vote on whether to spend money on a new NFL stadium.

The suit asks a judge to clarify whether such an expenditure would even require a vote, or if the city can make the decision on its own to extend bonds for a new home for the Rams.

Time is of the essence for St. Louis, which is trying to keep the Rams from moving to Los Angeles. The NFL has defined 2015 as the 11th hour, telling St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego they need to act sooner rather than later if they hope to keep their teams from relocating.

If a public vote were required to contribute tax money for a proposed $985-million riverfront stadium in St. Louis, it could significantly slow the process and presumably increase the likelihood the Rams would relocate.

At the center of the St. Louis lawsuit is a 2002 city ordinance that says a vote is required to decide whether public funds can be used to help pay for a sports venue.

David Peacock, appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to develop a St. Louis stadium plan, has said he doesn’t believe a public vote is required for the city to extend bonds that would pay off the existing debt on the Edward Jones Dome and provide capital for a new stadium. Nixon also said he doesn’t think a public vote is required.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said in a letter to city aldermen that he would “vigorously defend the validity of our ordinance” but would follow the law, whatever the outcome.

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