Legal Case Could Affect St. Louis’ MLS Efforts

2015 proposed MLS stadium, St. Louis

The legal dispute concerning stadium financing laws in St. Louis continues, creating more uncertainty regarding the city’s pursuit of an MLS franchise.

Last month, we took a look at the case. Three residents-Jeanette Mott Oxford, Earl Garrett, and William White-had previously attempted to join a lawsuit that pitted the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority against the City of St. Louis. The specific concern was an ordinance granting citizens an opportunity to vote on publicly-funded stadiums, which the authority contended was too vague to apply to efforts to keep the St. Louis Rams in town.

The Rams wound up moving to Los Angeles, but the case continues. The three plaintiffs recently appealed an appellate court decision that ruled against their efforts to join the city in the lawsuit. Their basis for joining the case was that they felt the city was not properly defending itself when it came to the issue of the Rams, but the appellate court ruled against the three residents. Upon reconsidering the case, the appellate court stood by its original verdict, but the picture is not any clearer.

An initiative has been put forth by a few groups to construct a stadium for an expansion MLS franchise in St. Louis. For months the leading group has been MLS2STL, which has pitched a stadium in downtown St. Louis along the city’s waterfront. (Earlier this month, we looked at a separate organization known as Foundry St. Louis, which has proposed a site near the St. Louis University Medical Center.) Though many details about MLS2STL and the stadium’s funding remain unknown, it has been expected that some public money would be requested.

Despite their setback, the three residents are continue to seek an alternative, be it another chance to be heard by the appellate court or a case with the Missouri State Supreme Court. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“It doesn’t change anything in our case, they just wanted the Eastern District to acknowledge a recent case dealing with intervention,” John Ammann, a St. Louis University law professor representing the plaintiffs, said.

Ammann and a team of students are attempting to intervene on behalf of three city residents who say the city isn’t seriously fighting the case brought by the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority. The authority says a 2002 ordinance requiring a public vote before spending tax money on a new stadium is “overly broad, vague and ambiguous.”

The three residents who want to join the case say the city is not adequately defending its ordinance.

The law professor now says the plaintiffs will ask the appeals court to review the case with a full slate of 14 judges, rather than a three-judge panel that typically hears cases. They can also ask the court to refer the case back to the Supreme Court, and if that request is refused they’ll ask the Supreme Court directly to consider the merits of the case.

Certainly there are no guarantees at this point about how the issue will proceed going forward. However, if the case remains in the court system long enough, it could stifle funding talks for a new MLS stadium.

Rendering dates from a previous effort to bring MLS to St. Louis; it does not reflect any current plans.

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August Publications