‘DC United at RFK – Now and Forever -5858’
courtesy of ‘Joe Tresh’
There was a time in my life when I might actually have been naive enough to be reassured by this story about the PG County General Assembly committee voting 5-0 to oppose the proposed stadium development. In particular I would have noted the quote “Council member Eric Olson (D-College Park) said he is not convinced that the stadium, slated to cost $180 million to $195 million, will become the economic engine for the county that its backers describe,” given my personal belief that nobody has ever produced a quality study demonstrating a tangible economic return from a publically financed stadium.
I’ve been through this dance enough times by now, however, to know that this is almost certainly just the first step for the local politicians. Once they’ve beat their chest a few times to set up their fiscal responsibility credibility they’ll use this faux reluctance to garner some campaign contributions and trivial consessions from the team managment. Then before you know it everyone’s a booster.
What you have to look forward to:
“Williams also has sent a letter to Major League Baseball proposing $ 200 million in financing options. City officials have said a stadium could cost $ 300 million or more, with the money coming from a mix of public and private sources.” [WaPo, Poll Finds D.C. Split on Funding Baseball Site, June 6, 2002]
To “Deputy Mayor Eric Price held up a chart of MLB’s last 11 stadium mega-deals, and suggested to the committee that the proper mix had settled at about two-thirds public funding to one-third private — a deal that would cost the District more than $ 250 million but also would cost MLB more than $ 100 million.” [WaPo, Baseball Awaits Money Pitch, Mar 19, 2003]
And end up at “Major League Baseball delivered a signed document to attorneys for the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission yesterday afternoon, agreeing to the city’s condition that the cost of its investment not exceed the $611 million cap that the D.C. Council approved last month. MLB, which owns the Nationals, also agreed to contribute $20 million toward the cost of the stadium,” [WaPo, MLB Officials Sign Lease for D.C. Stadium, Mar 6, 2006]
These aren’t really the same, though. Mayor Tony was so afraid he wouldn’t get a team that he forgot (or ignored) that he was supposed to be negotiating in good faith on behalf of the District, and walking away was never an option to him. MLB was negotiating in good faith on behalf of MLB and took advantage of him and us.
The soccer stadium isn’t that sort of issue. Sure, Fenty overplayed his hand with Poplar Point (not that the plan wouldn’t have ended up collapsing anyway with the bond market the way it is), but I think there are cooler heads all around this time.
You’re talking about DC, I’m talking about what I predict PG County’s elected officials will do as this rolls on: initial hemming and hawing over a significantly lowballed figure and subsequent whole-hearted support.
I doubt a stadium project in history has failed to start out with a ridiculously low initial figure, I just figured I’d use the National Ballpark as an example since it’s near and dear to our hearts and wallets.