Missouri lawmakers sue Gov. Jay Nixon over 'illegal' Rams stadium money

ST. LOUIS -- The efforts to build a new $985 million football stadium and keep the St. Louis Rams in the city hit another obstacle Wednesday afternoon.

According to a suit filed in the circuit court of Cole County, six Missouri legislators are suing Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority over Nixon's ability to extend the bonds on the Edward Jones Dome to pay for the proposed stadium on the city's north riverfront.

As part of the stadium plan, Nixon's task force has proposed that he can unilaterally extend bonds on the current stadium at the city and state level without a public vote to provide close to $250 million in public money for the new stadium.

The suit states the plaintiffs, led by state senator Robert Schaaf, believe that Nixon's efforts to extend those bonds are illegal, and referred to the money as being used on "an illegal construction of a new NFL stadium in St. Louis with taxpayer money."

The lawsuit also states the plaintiffs have "no other remedies in the law to protect their rights and interests."

In addition to Sen. Schaaf, the suit names state representatives Rob Vescovo, Jay Barnes, Mark Parkinson, Eric Burlison and Tracy McCreery as plaintiffs.

Also on Wednesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the first hearing on a separate lawsuit at the city level, which was to begin Thursday, has been postponed because the judge is sick.

That suit, brought by the RSA against the city of St. Louis, says a city ordinance passed in 2002 that requires a public vote before using tax dollars for a new stadium is "overly broad, vague and ambiguous."

Unlike the suit brought at the state level, that one was brought by the RSA in an effort to allow the spending of city money also without a public vote. The RSA, which runs the Edward Jones Dome, believes the 2002 law conflicts with Missouri state statutes.

Nixon's task force, led by local businessmen Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz, has been working since November to make the stadium project a reality to keep the Rams in St. Louis. That group has acquired almost two-thirds of the land for the project via option agreements in that time, but has yet to finalize the financing plan.

Nixon and Peacock have repeatedly said they hope to have the financing plan in place and actionable by the fall.