EARTH CITY, Mo. -- With a pending lawsuit hanging over the head of and threatening to slow down progress on a new NFL stadium on St. Louis' north riverfront, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon went on the offensive Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking to 101 ESPN radio in St. Louis, Nixon addressed a variety of topics related to the proposed stadium project and came with no shortage of urgency in his responses as he and his task force work toward trying to keep the St. Louis Rams in town.
Catching the bulk of Nixon's ire is a recent lawsuit filed by six state legislators attempting to stop him from unilaterally extending the bonds on the current Edward Jones Dome to help pay for the new stadium without a public vote at the city or state level.
Nixon took direct aim at the six politicians bringing the case when asked if he was concerned about the lawsuit.
"These are the same folks that tried during the entirety of the legislative session to get amendments passed and bills passed to stop this because they knew that the law favored continuing the way that this process has been set up," Nixon said. "That's one of the reasons why we had the task force report Jan. 9 so that the legislature would have the entirety of their session to look at this and if they wanted to change the law so that this transaction wasn't possible, they would have the opportunity to do so.
"And there was a lot of debate about it. But when the dust settled at the end of the session, they did nothing to slow down the legal authority of the RSA and us to move forward and now this incredibly small group of legislators trying to insert themselves at the last minute to get attention is not of great concern to any of us. And clearly an opportunity just for them to make a little name for themselves back home in places a long way from St. Louis."
Nixon went on to say that many of those involved in the suit are actually fans of the Kansas City Chiefs and pushed for funding for a new training camp facility the Chiefs use at Missouri Western University in St. Joseph's, Missouri. Per Nixon, that explains their lack of concern about the ability of St. Louis to keep the Rams or get a different NFL team.
"Well most of them were at Chiefs games clapping when they were thinking about filing lawsuits, let's just put it that way," Nixon said. "Everybody understands. "Let's not forget the geography of the folks [in this suit]. Everybody understands there's only 32 NFL cities in the world and everybody understands that an important hallmark. And everybody knows that St. Louis doesn't need to lose that designation as one of the 32 great sports cities in the world."
Nixon, who appointed the stadium task force led by local businessmen Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz in November, said he has been in contact with the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell consistently and repeatedly received positive feedback. Nixon was part of the group that traveled to New York to present the St. Louis stadium plan to the Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities. He believes that much of the expedited timeline for voting and discussing the relocation issue has been spurred by what's taken place in St. Louis.
"They have been really really pleased at the professional, direct way that we have presented a strong economic case here as well as concrete progress in an amazingly short emount of time," Nixon said. "Dave and Bob brought back their initial recommendations here Jan. 9 of this year and here we are now with the NFL moving up its decision process, a potential special owners meeting in August, a decision making meeting in October and a vast majority of that is because we said we are not going to sit around and see St. Louis lose this status as an NFL city."
No matter, Nixon seemed wholly unconcerned with the lawsuit and its possible effect on the stadium project.
"Absolutely it does not [slow things down]," Nixon said. "We've kept in constant communication with the NFL, I have talked personally to the Commissioner a number of times, this is not concerning to them. The fact that we are making the progress we are making and we have fundamentally moved up their deadline because of the aggressive work of our task force and our team here, that's more exciting than worrying about something like this."