December 17, 2005

Open Letter

To Council Members Adrian Fenty, David Catania, Marion Barry, Jim Graham, Carol Schwartz, Phil Mendelson, Linda Cropp, Vincent Gray and Kwame Brown.

The debate over the stadium in Southeast has focused almost exclusively on construction costs. How much and who should pay?

The debate has failed to fully recognize the economic and tax revenue boost from the stadium. Each night fans will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars which over the course of the season will translate into hundreds of millions in additioal tax revenue. One NBA playoff game, for instance, generated $100,000 in sales tax revenue, according to the Washington Examiner. Remember 82 home baseball games are played each year (plus playoffs, god willing).

Similarly, the additional real estate development -- condos, retail, offices -- will contribute millions to the D.C. tax base. Developers say over $100 million in tax revenue will be generated.

The objection to the use of public funds amounts to nothing more than political grandstanding. The debt on the bonds will be serviced by patrons of the stadium through ticket sales etc. While many of those patrons will be from D.C., most will be from the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

Additional stadium tax revenues could be used to improve schools, fund other benefit programs or lower taxes. Vote "yes" for the site in Southeast along the Anacostia.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

No public funds should be use for the stadium.

Colin said...

No, sorry, if this thing is such a homerun of a money-making enterprise then baseball owners should be happy to pony up for the stadium themselves. And if that area is such a great place for development it should occur anyway. Further, by this logic, there are literally dozens of enterprises deserving of public funding. Any attraction that generates substantial foot traffic -- and hence tax revenue -- should be subsidized. Where does it end?

If you really want to promote development in this town the city council we be far better advised to focus their energy and public money on improving education, fighting crime and providing basic public services.

It's laughable to think that the answer to what ails this town is a baseball stadium.

dcbubble said...

To responses:

1. The reason the city is the borrower is because it pays a lower rate making the whole deal easier to pull off

2. Development will take a very very long time w/o the stadium. MCI gave downtown a very big push.

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends,

I enjoy baseball and would like to see it stay in the District.

However, I will vote "no" on the baseball lease agreement--unless it
moves
the ballpark to the RFK Stadium vicinity, or contains major new non-DC
government funds or meaningful spending caps to protect the people of
our
city.

Let me explain why I have consistently opposed this stadium financing
since
last year.

The first reason is priorities. Baseball is NOT the most pressing
business
our government has at hand.

Our schools and libraries need millions of dollars in repairs. My
constituents call daily about the alarming rise in violent crime. And
we
still have long-term residents losing their affordable housing.

The second reason is that this is a bad deal because we do not know how
much
it will cost.

We have a stadium that started with a cost of $435 million and is now
estimated to be $714 million. With expected cost overruns, the price
could
easily reach $1 billion.

For example, Houston's stadium cost 47% more than projected. Arizona's,
48%.
But unlike these other cities--where the team covered all of the
additional
cost--our lease agreement would make the District responsible for every
extra penny!

Also, we're not even sure how much it will cost to buy the land for the
stadium. We do know building the Nationals' new home next to RFK
Stadium
would save over $100 million.

In short, we simply don't know how much the stadium will cost. And I'm
not
prepared to write a blank check. We need a different agreement for our
team.

Bests, Councilmember Jim Graham

Lance Salonia said...

Whether or not we originally agreed that this was a good deal for the city or not, renegging on the deal now is NOT in the city's bests interests. This city has worked long and hard at rebuilding a good reputation ... and keeping one's word --- i.e., "credibility" --- is a basic element of a good reputation. The decision to build the stadium at the SE site was made by the Council last year. Renegging now would be much more costly for the city than any of costs that are to be incurred in building in. Bankers, business investors, and just ordinary people looking to move here will take twice about getting involved with us in any manner if we are perceived as being less than reliable in our ability to keep our word. The Council gave its word last year and it is incumbent on each and every councilmember to protect that word.

Anonymous said...

It's not the same "deal". So they're not "renegging".

Colin said...

Remind me again how much public money went for the MCI Center?

And sorry, spending over $600 million to speed up development that would take place anyway strikes me as a big waste of money.

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