Until they find someone to buy the naming rights to the new proposed St. Louis NFL stadium, maybe they should refer to it as the Hot Potato.
A lawsuit challenging the St. Louis ordinance requiring a public vote prior to the use of tax dollars on a sports stadium has been through two judges this week, as explained by David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The first to go was David Dowd, who removed himself from the case on Monday. Dowd is ill and unable to handle the case in a timely way; the presiding judge of the St. Louis Circuit Court, Bryan Hettenbach, insisted that Dowd wasn’t simply trying to sidestep a case that could ultimately make him unpopular with Rams fans, if outcome results in a popular vote that prevents the stadium from being built. Regardless of the power of the NFL, electorates currently don’t have the desire to subsidize some of the richest people on the planet.
The case was next assigned to Circuit Judge Joan Moriarty, but the attorneys for the Edward Jones Dome authority (the group challenging the 13-year-old ordinance) exercised their right to strike one judge from the case. The decision to remove Moriarty means that based either on her politics or her past rulings the lawyers representing the Edward Jones Dome authority believed she would conclude that a public vote is required.
So now Judge Thomas J. Frawley, who primarily handles family law issues, has gotten the case. His background doesn’t necessarily fit this dispute. Because he’s now presiding over a lawsuit that could result in a divorce between the Rams and St. Louis, maybe it does.
Regardless of the outcome of the case, the clock is ticking. The powers-that-be in St. Louis need to secure a final order overturning the ordinance in order to clear the way for a stadium proposal that would be deemed sufficiently strong by the NFL to persuade enough owners to prevent Stan Kroenke from moving the Rams to L.A.