Judge rules no public vote required for new downtown football stadium


Stadium approach from the southeast – Images courtesy of HOK | 360 Architecture

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - A new riverfront football stadium does not need voter approval according to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Thomas Frawley ruled on Monday that the ordnance requiring a public vote was invalid.

Frawley also ruled that the placement of the stadium does not break state law requiring the building be adjacent to the convention center. He writes in the ruling that the buildings are close enough.

The NFL Taskforce's Dave Peacock released this statement on today's legal ruling:

"My task force partner Bob Blitz deserves a great deal of credit for today's result. Bob's commitment to the stadium project is impressive and his work on this matter, along with other members of our legal team, was extraordinary.

"The court's opinion is a victory for a bold and promising future for the NFL in St. Louis and the continued rebirth of our downtown. As we continue to make excellent progress on the stadium project, this is a great time for everyone in the St. Louis region to rally on behalf of something that will make a difference in our economy, national profile and quality of life for generations to come. We can make it happen."

Saint Louis University Professor of Law John Ammann works for the legal team representing taxpayers and voters. They released this statement:

"It’s a terrible day for local democracy. The voters and taxpayers now have no formal voice in whether they will pay for a new stadium, or how much.

This is either one of the worst days of the Mayor’s time in office, since he wasn’t able to protect the rights of his constituents to vote on funding for a new stadium….. Or the Mayor is thrilled with the result and it’s what he wanted from the beginning, because he supports the new stadium. And we’ll know which one of these it is by whether the City appeals the Court’s ruling. The Mayor said the City Counselor would vigorously defend the ordinance. That clearly would mean appealing an adverse ruling.

The taxpayers and voters will be filing an appeal of the Court’s ruling.

If the Mayor doesn’t also appeal, he will have abandoned the voters and taxpayers.

In addition, the Board of Aldermen should immediately convene and vote to place the stadium financing issue on the ballot. The Court’s ruling provides a roadmap on how a new ordinance requiring a vote could be drafted.

We still want the public to have a chance to express their views on this important issue as soon as possible. Our clients will schedule their own public hearing and invite the NFL, the Task Force and the voters and taxpayers."

Governor Jay Nixon, a St. Louis Rams team executive, and the leaders of the St. Louis stadium task force met with NFL Vice President Eric Grubman last month to discuss progress on the proposed riverfront stadium project. Among the key topics touched on in the meeting: stadium financing, updated design, and land acquisition.

The new stadium would cost close to $900 million. More than $400 million of those funds could be paid by taxpayers.

Governor Nixon has said that the bulk of the public money for the new stadium would come from extending the payments on bonds used to pay off the debt at the Edward Jones Dome. Right now, the state currently pays roughly $12 million a year for debt payoff and upkeep of The Dome. Preliminary figures show extending the bonds could provide $300 to $350 million for the new stadium project.

This hearing comes against the backdrop of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s plan to build an 80,000 seat stadium in the Los Angeles area.


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