Alderwoman files lawsuit as controversy builds over Scottrade Center renovations

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ST. LOUIS - Controversy seems to be brewing over who pays for renovations currently happening at Scottrade Center.

On Friday, two attorneys filed a lawsuit challenging the city ordinance that would pay for the work.

One of the plaintiffs is Alderwoman Cara Spencer, who said that the plan is unconstitutional and not fair to taxpayers. She said that she remembers all too well questioning the the board of aldermen's decision back in February to approve $64 million in renovations to be done at the home of the St. Louis Blues.

"Specifically, can we do this?" she said. "Are we authorized as a city to pay for upgrades for a privately controlled business enterprise? And what are the terms under which we are obligated to do so?"

Spencer said that the decision was rushed and no one spent time on doing research.

"A lot of ordinances were going through the board of Aldermen very very quickly," Spencer said. "It was very confusing. It was sort of a whirlwind of a development proposal and this was one them."

Spencer, along with a legal team lead by attorney Erich Vieth of Campbell Law LLC, found that the state's constitution specifically prohibits cities from using tax dollars to fund privately held business enterprises.

"If it was our intention through the ordinance to shift the burden from that hockey ownership group to the City of St. Louis then that should've been very clear and it wasn't," Spencer remarked, "instead we were told over and over again that the city owns the building and it is their responsibility to upgrade it, well it's not."

Spencer said that she's not necessarily against the renovations that are already under way but believes that the ownership group shouldn't have asked the city for a dime, especially when the proposal never went before the voters.

"What we want to do is stop the illegal use of tax dollars and find a regional solution that is not only legal but good for the city," she said.

Spencer said that she is confident the lawsuit will yield positive results.

The city released the following statement:

"....While we won't comment on the merits of this particular litigation, we will vigorously defend the City, its ordinances and agreements."

Kiel Center Partners, the representatives for the center also released a statement, part of which read:

"This lawsuit spearheaded by one member of the Board of Aldermen in a clear attempt to counter the consensus of her fellow elected officials is frivolous, disappointing and embarrassing to our city."

Spencer said that even though the work has begun, none of it is being paid by taxpayer money at the moment.

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