FanDuel - WFBC

December 15, 2004

Get your Nationals gear now: because the DC City Council may have just killed the team before they ever started playing.

posted by 86 to baseball at 11:09 AM - 41 comments

Washington Post registration required. Sorry.

posted by 86 at 11:09 AM on December 15

(ESPN link) ha ha. this pleases me. not that i had any vital attachment to the Expos but to have MLB screw around the fans in Montreal for years it seems rather fitting to have MLB screwed around by another city. DC City Council (7 of 13 of you at least), I applaud you. They are not saying no to the team, they are just telling any owner who wants in that he's gonna have to invest some money in the facility. Sure, why not.

posted by gspm at 11:27 AM on December 15

Apparently, Linda Cropp must not like baseball. Really sad. and what gspm said about the expos ... I am going to miss watching ball games in Montreal

posted by jasonspaceman at 11:32 AM on December 15

Oh this is just delightful!

posted by Drood at 11:53 AM on December 15

The deal that MLB wants is amazing. Full public financing for the stadium. How often does that happen? I hope not often, especially in cities that are struggling financially like D.C.

posted by bperk at 12:29 PM on December 15

bperk, heavy (or full) public financing for stadiums happens quite frequently. The idea is that the stadium produces revenue for the city. By floating bonds to cover the costs of construction the city can earn back the money over time by collecting taxes and paying off the bonds. These tax revenues come in the form of food and beverage sales, public parking fees, property taxes, tourism taxes (hotels, restaurants, bars), etc, etc. The facility and the team are, in theory, supposed to drive revenue from these sources higher, and high enough in time to cover the cost of the stadium. There are arguments as to whether this works or not. Case studies can be found on both sides. I've read a lot of them and from what I can tell is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. League and team owners contend that these increased revenues will come regardless of who pays for the stadium. They use this to find a city willing to pony up the money. If one city does not, another will. The deal that MLB wants is amazing It's actually the deal they got... Or thought they had until the council voted. The mayor had agreed to the public financing. MLB took that offer and started making baseball caps and jerseys. But then the City Council changed the deal at the eleventh hour. Now, the league is screwed and the city will not have a baseball team. Maybe Northern Virginia will get the rewards (if they actually do exist) or maybe they too will be unwilling to take that chance. Either way, some city will build MLB a ballpark. Vegas maybe? And by the way, welcome aboard.

posted by 86 at 01:00 PM on December 15

There are arguments as to whether this works or not. Case studies can be found on both sides. I've read a lot of them and from what I can tell is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Any places that one could find these reports on the Internets? Back on topic. If the Expos have to move, I hope that they find their way to Virginia somehow. That would be awfully convenient for me since I live one state south.

posted by NoMich at 01:16 PM on December 15

isn't this just a construction delay, rather than a move-deal breaker?

posted by garfield at 01:35 PM on December 15

Any places that one could find these reports on the Internets? Mark Rosentraub authors many of these reports (he is mainly against publically-financed stadiums), including a recent report studying the economic effects of a new Cowboys stadium (PDF).

posted by avogadro at 01:35 PM on December 15

NoMich, I can't think of one specific report, but you can find loads of stuff out there with a few searches. I was reading these things back in 1999, so I can't think of the specific sources or names. One that I came across after my intial posting up above is this one. It has a lot of talking points, but it cherry-picks the evidence that suits their cause. I'm not saying they're wrong... they aren't, but they ignore contrary evidence. Like I said, the best conclusion that I've been able to draw is that it's hit or miss. For example, the link above says... "The stadium is being sold as part of the economic development of Anacostia. But the experience in Arlington, TX, Chicago, IL, Detroit, MI and Milwaukee, WI where similar promises of rehabilitating blighted neighborhoods was made shows that the failure of rebuilding around a stadium." But this fails to mention Seattle and San Diego's new parks where redevelopment in the area around the parks has been robust. There are million-dollar condos near SafeCo and downtown San Diego is going straight to the sky with new buildings. We can wonder whether these areas would have developed as rapidly without a park, but you can't deny that this new building will generate $$$ for the city. And for what's worth, Anacostia is a shit-hole. You could build a diaper factory there and the area would be prettier. Interesting: San Fran's new stadium is the only baseball stadium to be built with only private funds since 1962 (Cardinals). And garfield, MLB will go to the city that gives them this deal. They waited a long time to get the word from DC. They got it and then the Council broke it. Unless something within DC politics happens to change the situation the stadium won't be built in the District. Northern VA will be the next option and then we're back to the old list, Vegas, San Juan or whatever city will build them a ballpark.

posted by 86 at 01:38 PM on December 15

1961 Washington Senators become the Minnesota Twins 1972 Washington Senators become the Texas Rangers 2004-2005 Washington Nationals become nada before playing a game? third time is the charm...or stirke three?

posted by chris2sy at 01:42 PM on December 15

nice preview by me, it should say "strike three" (strike one for me...)

posted by chris2sy at 01:43 PM on December 15

This op-ed from avogradro's Mark Rosentraub is great. I especially liked this point... "Taxpayers in most cities will continue to pay for all or part of new sports facilities. This will not change as long as the leagues are permitted to control the supply of teams. Simply put, the number of teams that exist and where they play are not determined by markets but by the small groups of owners that form a league. Restricting the number of teams creates a bidding war among regions, and those communities that offer the highest subsidies get a franchise." They'll get it somewhere, from some city based on hope. Leaders hope it will help their city. They hope based on some measure of past successes. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Although I'm not sure the result is dependent on how the team performs, it's hard to question that if the team does well the chances improve.

posted by 86 at 01:44 PM on December 15

Should be avogadro... sorry about that.

posted by 86 at 01:46 PM on December 15

downtown San Diego is going straight to the sky with new buildings. We can wonder whether these areas would have developed as rapidly without a park, but you can't deny that this new building will generate $$$ for the city. True about the SD ballpark area going nutty with construction, but I believe a lot of that redevelopment in the immediate area was actually part of the ballpark construction plan itself. The new stuff didn't come *after* the ballpark, it came along with it as part of the whole package that we voted on. Actually, downtown's been going nuts for years (perhaps partially in anticipation of the new park), and I think the park just caught the wave for the most part.

posted by LionIndex at 01:46 PM on December 15

The most critical part of that construction in SD was the PETA brick it really holds the place together... But seriously the same issues are playing out here in Minnesota, to pay or not to pay (StarTrib link may require registration?) with everyone (taxpayers) not wanting to pony up for the new parks. The Brewers new park hasn't everything better there and I think that is one reason for the reluctance. Like 86 said I think the "taxpayers-build-the-new-park-or-foot-the-bill" deal has been done with mixed success. Las Vegas the new frontrunner?

posted by chris2sy at 02:08 PM on December 15

The facility and the team are, in theory, supposed to drive revenue from these sources higher, and high enough in time to cover the cost of the stadium. There are arguments as to whether this works or not. Case studies can be found on both sides. I've read a lot of them and from what I can tell is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Well, in the city of London ON, it seems to be working (so far). After they built and opened the John Labatts Centre for the London Knights junior hockey team, the restaurants and shops in the direct area around it are thriving. Of course, it's done nothing to stop the slow death of the only downtown mall (The Galleria) which is at less than half-capacity. And the area more than a kilometre east from the arena hasn't seen any benefit (it's still a bit sketchy). And this boost in the downtown economy might be tied to the fact that the team is the best in the country AND there is no competing hockey for publicity. I'll still reserve judgement on this matter in my local town until 5 years from now when the team might be on the downside of success. We'll see if they are still "cramming them in" the local bars.

posted by grum@work at 02:50 PM on December 15

Should be avogadro... sorry about that. No worries; happens all the time.

posted by avogadro at 02:53 PM on December 15

The Brewers new park hasn't everything better there Do you mean regarding the city or the team? Because the city is definitely on the rebound, and the team, while still pretty lousy, is also moving in the right direction (witness how Melvin recently fleeced both Kenny Williams and John Schuerholz). In my mind, the one single thing that could be improved in Milwaukee's baseball situation is if Miller Park was downtown. And Ben Sheets' back, so two things I guess.

posted by rocketman at 02:55 PM on December 15

Apparently, Linda Cropp must not like baseball. Really sad. You know, you could also interpret this as: Apparently, Linda Crop must not like her constituents having to bend over and take it up the poopchute from a bunch of rich guys. Really refreshing! It's nice to see a town tell MLB to go screw itself. You want a new ballpark? That's easy to do -- pay for it yourself. If you can't, I guess you aren't rich enough to own a ballclub, huh? I can see the 50/50 deal (or some split) because D.C. will be helped to some measure by having a team, but not $531M worth.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:02 PM on December 15

If you can't, I guess you aren't rich enough to own a ballclub, huh? It's not that they can't, it's that someone else always will.

posted by 86 at 03:15 PM on December 15

Another twist is what happens to the team if this falls apart. DC worked out well because they had RFK to fall back on while the new satdium was being built. If the deal is off where do they go next. Back to Montreal until another city can build a big enough stadium? Do they use RFK even if they know they are going to be moving again in the future? To they go back to being nomads for another couple of years? A truly bizarre situation.

posted by dzot at 04:16 PM on December 15

I still think they should move permanently to Santo Domingo, DR. They'd immediately become one of the most popular franchises in Latin America and get massive media coverage all over the Caribbean and SA. Then again, I suppose better marketing minds than I have already looked at the revenue potentials there...

posted by tieguy at 04:51 PM on December 15

But this fails to mention Seattle and San Diego's new parks where redevelopment in the area around the parks has been robust. There are million-dollar condos near SafeCo and downtown San Diego is going straight to the sky with new buildings. Didn't read the link 86 but whoever came up with that load of crap doesn't live in Seattle.

posted by catfish at 06:07 PM on December 15

I can see the 50/50 deal (or some split) I totally agree. Full public funding for a sports stadium is insane. I realize the city will benefit economically from its presence, but the city benefits economically from hundreds of businesses that don't get help on their rent, that don't get help erecting new buildings. In fact, the public should chip in some cash for the stadium - maybe 50% is a good upper limit, maybe it should be less - but what does it say about a businessman who's not willing to invest his (or her) own money in that business' own capital? Kinda short on that good ol' American entrepreneurial spirit, if you ask me.

posted by rocketman at 06:42 PM on December 15

So now what happens? Do the Expos play all their home games in San Juan next season? Do the Expos even exist?

posted by Nyssia at 08:32 PM on December 15

MLB player salaries are estimated at 3.1 billion a year. And that's not total MLB revenue, either. If MLB took just 10% of its annual revenue they'd have enough to build a brand new stadium each year- and every major league city would get a brand spankin' new stadium every 30 years. Of course, if the league/teams were footing the full bill themselves, I suspect those necessities- like retractable roofs, etc- would suddenly become fanciful luxuries. Any real business has to consider location as one its costs- only in professional sports and dirty-money pork-barrel politics do we have insanely rich corporations getting free facilities on the taxpayer dime. Socialize risk, privatize profit. These bastards ought to be staple gunned to the streetlights by their thumbs, then torn apart like they did to Mussolini. Pay for your own damn stadiums, you rich fucks! Me, I don't like having my sales tax exceed 9% in Seattle just so a franchise that hoards its money, spends poorly on "talent" and rigs the books to hide the massive cash cow can get a practically free, unnecessarily retractable roof stadium, or so that one of the wealthiest men on the planet can get a schwank new football stadium built for him largely by taxpayer dough. Fact is, these scams only work because the league can act as a union of one, while the cities are played against each other- we need more Linda Cropps to stand up and say "Feck off, pay your own way". If every city did this, then they couldn't play this "we'll take our ball and go to Las Vegas" game. But alas, weak-willed glory hound local bureaucrats want to boast that they "saved the Seahawks" or some such nonsense, so these deals keep happening.

posted by hincandenza at 11:06 PM on December 15

A-men, Hal. Let's take up a collection to buy Linda Cropp a plaque. :)

posted by tieguy at 07:25 AM on December 16

Apparently, Linda Crop must not like her constituents having to bend over and take it up the poopchute from a bunch of rich guys. Really refreshing! Yeah, because her constituents are doing so well right now. And without a ballpark they will continue to do the same. Look, I hate public financing of stadiums as much as the next person, but this isn't about that. DC made an agreement, and Linda Cropp not only has tried to change the agreement after the fact, but she admits that she blindsided Mayor Williams. Ms. Cropp's constituents and many more DC residents have a chance to bring much-needed change and revitalization to an area that has been blighted since 1968. If she wants to piss it away she has a right, but my guess is that people not only want baseball in DC, but they also want jobs. As an aside, the comments about publicly financed stadiums (and other projects) are true, but one thing relatively unique about DC is that because of the presence of the Federal government here, there is not as much of a tax base. The Feds don't pay taxes on the huge tracks of land they have, making it difficult to generate taxes like other cities.

posted by scully at 08:17 AM on December 16

Socialize risk, privatize profit Hal, well summed.

posted by garfield at 09:22 AM on December 16

Let's not overstate the effect of the stadium on waterfront development. Fannie Mae is still moving down there, the Department of Transportation is still moving to that area. Any area with cheap real estate and Metro access is going to see growth in this market. A new stadium would have helped, but I doubt the city would have $600 million in benefits out of it.

posted by Revisited at 11:11 AM on December 16

Good. DC United were about to get stiffed by the Expos moving in to RFK.

posted by salmacis at 12:24 PM on December 16

Terrapin, before I respond, can you tell me more about the area of D.C. where the stadium is supposed to be built? I don't want to go off half-cocked.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:21 PM on December 16

Drop Cropp?

posted by NoMich at 04:11 PM on December 16

Yeah, 'cause Linda Cropp Sux!

posted by gspm at 04:19 PM on December 16

...and grovels before Selig by 12/31. Ack! I'm sorry, but being a part of an organization that would potentially involve doing the above is not worth being a part of.

posted by NoMich at 05:10 PM on December 16

Ooh, I'm late but I wrote this earlier today on my site about the subject: There's trouble afoot in Capital City! The DC city council is upsetting the Major League Baseball Overlords. My solution: make "The Nationals" a barnstorming team. The team without a home, they will travel the country in a decked-out entourage of planes, trains, busses and trucks, finding a "home" stadium when they can (if we don't have enough empty major league ballparks now, we may yet) and playing the role of a true national team. (The mascot can be a guy with a sack tied to a bat.) This kind of radical departure requires a thumb-on-the-nose attitude on the part of the owners and whoops! There's the flaw. The owners are in bed with themselves on this one. Until someone puts Major League Baseball out of its monopolistic misery it is going to continue on a downward spiral toward the sterility of which Mr. Disney was so fond. One look at the suburbs though and we realize it's a success!

posted by Dick Paris at 07:05 PM on December 16

Why can't the new owner pony up half the money for the new stadium? Major League Baseball shouldn't be insisting that a city pay the full cost here, just so they can rake in more money for owning a team it never should have acquired. I want the Nationals to succeed in D.C., but I'm glad the city government is putting the screws to Bud "Give Me a New Stadium And We'll Keep Finishing Last" Selig.

posted by rcade at 08:41 PM on December 16

What Hal said. As a 25+-year fan of the Expos, I discovered this week that schadenfreude really is a dish best served cold.

posted by docgonzo at 09:02 PM on December 16

Sex Industry Funded Campaign Against New Stadium. LOL

posted by billsaysthis at 11:52 PM on December 17

I'd have to think that there are many in power in DC who will be happy to trade a baseball team for continued health of the DC sex industry.

posted by gspm at 10:51 AM on December 18

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