MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. – The City of Maryland Heights faces a lawsuit over an alleged lease violation related to the Sportport International youth soccer complex.
At the center of the lawsuit is a quit claim deed that granted a public right-of-way through the Sportport property to St. Louis County. This came after lengthy discussions for new development around Sportport, and one stakeholder claims Maryland Heights violated lease terms through its actions.
HSL Sports LLC, a Missouri limited liability company, filed a lawsuit against Maryland Heights and NorthPoint Development LLC earlier this week in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
A spokesperson with the City of Maryland Heights tells FOX 2 that the city is consulting with attorneys “for further discussion on the matter,” but declined additional comment.
According to court documents obtained by FOX 2, HSL Sports LLC and Maryland Heights entered into a lease for the Sportport property in June 2014 with an intended total term of 25 years. HSL claims to have invested millions of dollars in upgrades and additions over the years, including multiple turf and grass fields.
Per court documents, HSL representative Jefferey Fox first learned that the City of Maryland Heights had interest in modifying the terms of the lease as early as October 2022. NorthPoint had interest in building five warehouses around the property and needed HSL’s approval for an “access of easement” feature that could overlap one of Sportport’s grass soccer fields.
NorthPoint made its first offer to purchase Sportport from the City of Maryland Heights in January 2023, which also included certain conditions for HSL. Among them, NorthPoint offered $5.8 million to HSL “in exchange for HSL’s release of its rights under the lease,” per court documents. HSL declined that offer and noted it “was not interested in a buyout of the entirety of its lease” after nearly a decade of investments.
In February, NorthPoint modified an offer to purchase around seven acres of the Sportport property for $1 million from HSL. This led to months of discussions and negotiations among leaders of HSL, NorthPoint and Maryland Heights. HSL claims it “was in the final stages of finalizing terms” as early as May 2023.
Per court documents, the City of Maryland Heights sent a letter to HSL on June 22, 2023, indicating it would terminate “all ongoing negotiations with HSL” and any other agreements, like access of easement opportunities and further HSL construction.
The lawsuit contends that the City of Maryland Heights recorded a “quit claim deed” one day earlier and granted St. Louis County “a public right-of-way through the Sportport property.” It claims Maryland Heights approved on June 15 that allowed St. Louis County to hold interests in the right-of-way. HSL asserts that it did not know about the quit claim deed until August.
On Aug. 23, HSL sent a letter to the City of Maryland Heights indicating that the quit claim deed “violates HSL’s exclusive lease to the Sportport property” and “HSL’s rights under the lease.” The lawsuit states that HSL didn’t receive a reply to that letter until September and later learned the City of Maryland Heights would not return to a prior deal discussed before the quit claim deed.
HSL argues that “these actions have not been taken for a valid public purpose. … [were] solely done to support economic development [and] benefit a single property owner.” As for the quit deed claim, HSL states it was “already being used by that property owner despite not being the right of way grantee identified in the quit claim deed.”
HSL says these alleged actions have caused at least $25,000 in damages to HSL’s property rights. The company also claims that NorthPoint has trespassed the property at various times since August for various tasks, like placing stakes on the ground and clearing landscaping in the designated right-of-way area.
According to the lawsuit, HSL is seeking compensation for damages in excess of $25,000. HSL is also seeking temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief as it relates to current violations of the lease. HSL is also asking for attorney fees and incurred costs pertained to the lawsuit to be covered.