Gov. Nixon’s Ejection Helps Boost Fight to Keep Rams in St. Louis

     JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – NFL fans fighting to keep the Rams in St. Louis won a round Thursday when a judge removed Gov. Jay Nixon from a lawsuit and transferred it from the state capital to St. Louis City Court.
     Six legislators had sued Gov. Jay Nixon and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which wants to build a $1 billion stadium to persuade the Rams to stay in town.
     The lawmakers, filing in Cole County Court, claimed Nixon did not have the authority to extend bonds being used to pay for the Rams home stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, and use the money on a new downtown stadium on the Mississippi River.
     Proponents say the stadium will revitalize a blighted area and is needed to keep the Rams from moving to Los Angeles.
     Cole County Judge Jon Beetem on Thursday found the lawmakers failed to state a claim against Nixon and found that the proper venue is in St. Louis.
     “This was a minor matter that has now been mostly resolved,” Bob Blitz, an attorney in the case and a member of Nixon’s stadium task force, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s another thing we really don’t have to worry about. Big picture, it gives us a lot of momentum.”
     The lawmakers also claimed the stadium plans violated the law that established the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sport Complex Authority, because the new stadium will not be next to the old one.
     It will be across the street from it.
     A St. Louis Circuit judge ruled in a separate lawsuit on Aug. 3 that the proposed stadium will be adjacent to the Edward Jones Dome, as its parking lot will be next to the old stadium.
     State Sen. Rob Schaaf, who spearheaded the lawsuit against Nixon, called Judge Beetem’s ruling a technical issue, and said he was not sure if he would pursue the lawsuit in St. Louis, but probably and would refile in Cole County against one of the state’s subordinate agencies.
     Schaaf told the Post-Dispatch he would filibuster any budget containing money for a St. Louis stadium.
     “I will fight it tooth and nail when it comes to making the payments on those bonds,” Schaaf said. “I’ll do everything in my power to keep that money out of the budget. And I’ll do it three years in a row.”
     Schaaf did not comment on the $50 million in tax subsidies the Chief and Royals got to improve their stadium or the $25 million the Chiefs got from the state to build a training facility in St. Joseph, in Schaaf’s home district.
     Forbes magazine last year rated the Rams dead last in value for NFL teams – no doubt one issue in the team’s making eyes at Los Angeles.

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