Judge rules in favor of St. Louis stadium group

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis stadium task force's quest to get a new stadium built on the north riverfront and keep the St. Louis Rams in town got some good news Monday morning.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Thomas Frawley ruled that no public vote will be required for the use of public dollars on the proposed stadium.

That's considered a big win for the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA), which has earmarked about $66 million in bonds from the city toward the cost of the stadium.

"My task force partner, Bob Blitz, deserves a great deal of credit for today's result," said Dave Peacock, a co-leader on the task force. "Bob's commitment to the stadium project is impressive, and his work on this matter, along with other members of our legal team, was extraordinary.

"The court's opinion is a victory for a bold and promising future for the NFL in St. Louis and the continued rebirth of our downtown. As we continue to make excellent progress on the stadium project, this is a great time for everyone in the St. Louis region to rally on behalf of something that will make a difference in our economy, national profile and quality of life for generations to come. We can make it happen."

In his ruling, Frawley voided a 2002 ordinance that required a city vote for any tax dollars that would be put toward a professional sports facility. Frawley ruled that the ordinance was vague and would require "guesswork" to be enforced properly.

Of particular importance in the case was whether the area chosen for the new stadium was considered adjacent to the current Edward Jones Dome.

A state law requires a new building using the same funds for the convention center to be "adjacent" to get that same funding. But the definition of adjacent was also considered vague, and Frawley ruled that it was close enough.

The RSA first brought the lawsuit back in April, and Frawley heard arguments in early June.

Although it's unknown whether the city will appeal the ruling, the task force can now forge ahead with a firmer financing plan in advance of the owners meetings set for Aug. 11 outside of Chicago. The task force's proposed financing also includes $135 million in RSA bonds from the state, $187 million in tax credits and between $150-160 million in personal seat licenses. It also asks for an NFL owner to put in $250 million, with $200 million more coming from the NFL's G4 loan program.

Having at least one piece of the public financing without a roadblock should help clarify things as the task force works to keep the Rams in town.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke is seeking to build a new stadium in Inglewood, California, with the NFL expected to decide whether that venue or the Raiders- and Chargers-backed Carson stadium plan will get approval by the end of the year or early in 2016.