ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – The St. Louis Cardinals have filed a lawsuit against a local nonprofit group with a mission to support inner city youth baseball programs. According to the lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of St. Louis City, the Cardinals sold the Lewis & Clark Baseball League thousands of tickets at a discounted rate in an effort to help with fundraising. However, the suit says the league misrepresented how those tickets would be used.
Founded in 2012, the Lewis & Clark Baseball League offers summer baseball programs to college athletes. League president Nicholas Mahrt said his organization contacted the St. Louis Cardinals about a ticket consignment program with the hopes of establishing an all-star game on the field at Busch Stadium for its athletes.
Through the Cardinals' community fund "Cardinal Care," the organization allows charitable groups to purchase discounted tickets and resell them at up to face value.
"This was not a Cardinals Care program," said Mahrt. "This was a program, at least how it was represented to us, was a program through their group ticket office."
The lawsuit states Lewis & Clark contracted for 3,500 tickets to desirable games during the 2014 season - including the 4th of July and the Cards match up against the New York Yankees during Derek Jeter's final season. Mahrt states the agreement was for 3,200 tickets.
"The rules (of the contract) were we had to use every available means to sell the tickets, and that was in the contract," said Mahrt. He said Lewis & Clark used the website StubHub to sell the tickets and he was upfront with the Cardinals organization about his use of the website. The tickets were listed under his name, Lewis & Clark, and the Leagues of Extraordinary Gentlemen - the parent company of Lewis & Clark.
The lawsuit states Lewis & Clark made $40, 475.04 over face value of the tickets.
Mahrt said some of the profits were used to defray the costs of their student athletes. The rest was invested back in the community - specifically at the baseball field at Harris Stowe State College.
"The infield was funded through fundraisers that the Lewis & Clark Baseball League organized and worked with through a strategic partnership with the St. Louis Cardinals."
The Cardinals are suing for the total amount of profits which they plan to distribute to "deserving charities."
According to Mahrt, Lewis & Clark has offered to donate time, energy and money and hope to resolve the matter so the two groups can continue their partnership in the future.
The Cardinals released a statement saying, "We felt it necessary to protect our fans and the many community groups we strive to help every day with our charity ticket program."