Will St. Louisans get to vote on riverfront stadium proposal?

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – After trying twice to bring their case before a St. Louis Circuit Court judge, lawyers for the Regional Sports Authority finally had a chance to argue in court why they think an ordinance giving St. Louis residents the right to vote on public funding for a new stadium is invalid.

A city ordinance passed in 2002 says any new stadium proposals funded with public money first have to be approved by city voters.

But now the Regional Sports Authority (RSA), which is backing a plan to build a new stadium, says that ordinance is void because it is vague and conflicts with state law. The city argues even though the RSA was created by the state, the law is silent on the question of whether voters have the right to decide about funding new stadiums.

The hearing before Judge Thomas Frawley lasted more than three hours, with Frawley asking lots of questions of all the attorneys.

The RSA argues that the ordinance conflicts with the city charter but the city argues the charter says clearly laws can be passed either by the Board of Aldermen or the voters. The city is in an odd position because Mayor Francis Slay supports the stadium, but has to defend the ordinance which some feel could make it difficult to get a new stadium built.

Along with all the arguments about the ordinance, a lawyer for three city residents is asking the judge to allow them to be part of the case, because they don’t think the city is serious about defending the ordinance.

The judge did not rule on their request nor did he rule on the bigger question Thursday.

There is no indication when he might, but the RSA is hoping it is soon because they want this settled before the NFL owners next meeting on August 11.