Wednesday, December 21, 2005

DC stadium deal in doubt

Story here.

If it were anybody but Marion Barry at the head of the line opposing the deal, I'd be more supportive of the Council. Actually, I think they're doing the right thing. From a bargaining perspective, baseball needs DC more than DC needs baseball. I do think that economically speaking the Stadium will be a great boon for the city, so I think the Council ought to vote to approve the lease. On the other hand, the costs are getting excessive, and I am leery of spending too much government money on a sports stadium - big sports fan that I am. Thus the Council's caution is warrented.

Ultimately, this is - as usual - all Major League Baseball's fault. They have screwed this whole thing up, and have been doing so since they bought out the Expos. The idiotic courting that took place before they finally moved the Expos was simply stupid. Did anybody really think that Portland or Las Vegas were viable options? But by continually hemming and hawing baseball, when it finally awarded the franchise to DC, did not allow enough time to adequately a stadium package in place. The Council had to rush through something at the last second last year, and that impacted these very events.

More importantly, baseball's reluctance to finally award the franchise to any single owner has been disastrous. Aside from the fact that it is unfair to the team because it cannot fully enter the market, the lack of an owner is a sign of bad faith on the part of Major League Baseball. Why should the city spend nearly $700 million on a ballpark when MLB has had no interest in settling the team's ownership situation? More importantly, without a deep-pocketed owner at the helm, the city is left without any assurance as to who will pick up the tab if there are signficant cost overruns. If there had been an owner in place during this process, it is unlikely that we would be witnessing this deacle. Perhaps the owner could have promised to buck up the extra $200 million or so to get this deal finalized.

Major League Baseball has not seen this sweet a deal in ages. They are poised to make millions off of the sale of this franchise, and they are set to have a brand new ballpark in the Nation's capital. Only Major League Baseball could so royally fuck up such a good thing.

Update: More chutzpa from MLB. Now they're warning prospective owners not to tell the city that they'd put up some money for the stadium. Yes, heaven forfend the city not be raped for every cent possible in order to construct the ballpark. It's amazing, but MLB has accomplished the impossible task of making me side with the DC City Council.

One side note: Part of the exorbitant cost is a $60 million stadium design consultant fee. Man, I'm in the wrong line of work.


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