JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A group of Missouri state lawmakers are challenging Governor Nixon’s legal authority to proceed with a bonding plan for a new Rams stadium. State Reps. Jay Barnes, Eric Burlison, Mark Parkinson and Rob Vescovo joined state Sen. Rob Schaaf in filing a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cole County that seeks to prohibit the governor’s actions based on several points including his lack of statutory authority to issue new bonds.
This lawsuit, filed against Governor Jay Nixon and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) today in Cole County, includes the following counts:
- The defendants’ spending of money towards the new stadium violates their authority in that it extends debt in a way that would increase the principal owed.
- Defendants’ actions would violate their authority by extending the debt over 50 years.
- Building a stadium not adjacent to an existing convention facility violates their authority.
- The composition of the current RSA board is illegal, since only 6 of its 11 members should be of the same party, but the suit alleges that at least 7 are Democrats.
- RSA is violating its authority, which is limited to debt service and maintenance for the Edward Jones Dome, not on a new stadium. A lot of money has been spent on the new stadium effort.
The suit requests a “Declaratory Judgment and a Writ or Prohibition” to stop the Governor and RSA from moving forward on a new stadium in the aforementioned ways. It is not necessarily that the plaintiffs are against a new stadium, they just want the legislature and/or the people of Missouri to have their say, and they believe current law does not allow new stadium efforts to go forward without additional authority. This is contrary to the NFL’s desire to make a decision on a faster timeline. From Bernie Miklasz at the Post-Dispatch:
For example, if it’s necessary to have a public vote to sign off on the city’s portion of the stadium funding, the timing would be crucial. If a vote doesn’t occur until late fall (early November) it could raise NFL doubts about the firmness of the St. Louis funding. And a November vote may not be in line with the league’s preferred timing.
This would also be the case, maybe more so, if a statewide vote or legislative action were needed. But the people of Missouri deserve a chance to decide if we want to sink taxpayer dollars into this venture.