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Missouri Supreme Court hears arguments in SLU arena case


By Matt Sepic, KWMU

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case challenging Saint Louis University's plan to use public money for part of its new basketball arena.

The Masonic Temple Association, a neighbor of SLU, sued the university.

The state constitution says public funds may not go to any institution under the control of a religious creed.

James Stemmler, the Masons' attorney, said because SLU is Catholic, it is unconstitutional for the school to receive tax money.

"The bylaws actually state that the university shall be identified as a Catholic and as a Jesuit university," Stemmler said.

But SLU Vice President and General Counsel Bill Kauffman said while the university is Catholic, it is not under the control of the Vatican or the St. Louis Archdiocese.

"We are guided by the principles of the Catholic, Jesuit tradition, but being guided does not translate into control," Kauffman said. "Control of the university is really by the board of trustees of Saint Louis University."

SLU is seeking $8 million from the Grand Center tax-increment financing district to pay for part of its $80 million arena.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen included the arena when they first approved the TIF.