Funding for Cards’ Stadium Challenged

Sat March 12, 2005 - Midwest Edition

ST. LOUIS (AP) Opponents of public funding for a new stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals have lost a court challenge.

The suit was filed after voters in November approved Proposition A, which prohibits county tax dollars from being spent for sports stadiums without voter approval.

The Coalition Against Public Funding said approval of the charter amendment meant voters in St. Louis County should be able to decide whether the county could spend $2.7 million each year from an existing hotel and motel tax to pay off $45.7 million in bonds sold to help finance a portion of stadium construction.

But Judge Barbara Wallace ruled that Proposition A cannot be applied retroactively to the stadium and applies if public funds are sought for a future sports facility for professional teams.

Backers of the new downtown ballfield had asked her to go even further and declare Proposition A null and void.

But Wallace struck a middle ground in denying the Coalition Against Public Funding’s request for an April 5 election. She noted that the $45.7 million in bonds were sold in December 2003; the money from them has already been paid; and the funds have at least been partially spent. The only entities affected by a negative vote would be the people who bought the bonds and the county that guaranteed to pay them off.