A lawsuit to halt St. Louis’ financing agreement for $64 million in Scottrade Center renovations will go to trial Dec. 11, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
The lawsuit, filed in August by 20th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer and two other plaintiffs against the city and the Blues ownership, alleges the agreement is unconstitutional in Missouri. They say it violates statutes governing handouts of public money to private for-profit entities.
The Blues say Missouri courts have already established such agreements are lawful because there will be an economic benefit to the city by making the investment in Scottrade Center, which opened in 1994 and is owned by the city. The Blues hold a 50-year lease on the facility.
On Monday, Blues attorneys will make their argument for summary judgment in another lawsuit, one they brought against Comptroller Darlene Green for refusing to sign the financing agreement. Her signature is needed to allow the city to take out bonds to pay for the project, which is scheduled to be carried out in phases over three years.
The Blues say she is required by law to sign the document, but Green maintains the law gives her broad authority to withhold her approval for financing agreements that would threaten the city’s credit rating. Green said her advisers have raised concerns about the deal, with which interest would cost the city $105 million over 30 years, and its potential impact on the city’s credit.
Green also says a new tax on ticket sales at Scottrade Center and Peabody Opera House to help pay for the renovations is illegal. The tax, which takes effect Oct. 1, is an amendment added this year by the Board of Aldermen to an existing Community Improvement District covering the facilities since 2009.
Attorneys for the city have publicly sided with the Blues in both lawsuits. The city is paying for Green’s outside defense counsel in the case.
The Blues have taken on debt to complete some renovations before the team’s season starts next month. Their attorneys say Green’s refusal caused them to take on unexpected additional loans to ensure the work was completed.
Both cases are before Circuit Court Judge Joan Moriarty.