ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Attorneys for the Convention and Visitors Commission are fighting a request filed under the Missouri Sunshine Law to disclose details of the Rams’ counter proposal for how to pay for improvements to the Edward Jones Dome.
Attorney Greg Smith representing the CVC has filed a declaratory judgement asking the circuit court to allow the negotiations to remain out of public view for now.
“The law specifically creates exceptions designed to give public officials the opportunity to conduct certain things, like lease negotiations and contract negotiations on a confidential basis until such time as that lease amendment is finalized,” Smith said.
Once the lease amendment is be finalized, Smith says everything would be made public, and if any additional tax money is needed to fulfill the plans, it would be subject to voter approval.
Media outlets had filed suit, seeking details of the plan immediately.
Post Dispatch Editor Arnie Robbins issued a statement on the court fight:
“It’s simple, really. The CVC is a public governmental body funded by public funds. It is negotiating improvements for a publicly-owned stadium that likely will involve public funds. We believe that the policy behind the Sunshine Law is to ensure transparency in situations in which the public’s representatives are proposing deals that would result in the expenditure of tax money. We don’t believe it serves the public to learn the facts after a deal is done. In a democratic society, public input into the process is vital and should not be treated as an inconvenience.”
Smith says the secrecy is intended to prevent “undo pressure or interference” from parties both “for and against” the proposed deal.
“There are constituencies who feel that keeping any major league sports team in a community is critical part of national reputation,” Smith said, “There will be those who might say, who try to influence public officials to expend public funds for a particular public objective regardless of cost.”
The Rams’ latest proposal is in response to a February proposal offered by the CVC that would add $124 million in improvements to the dome. At issue in the negotiations is both the total cost and how it would be divided between the football team and the CVC.