Friday, December 17, 2004

Back To The Drawing Board?

In the latest round of the battle to determine the most evil of two lessers, Linda Cropp (AKA Cropzilla) has asked for an extension of the year-end deadline for the financing bill. Baseball, ever the stern task-master, is not amused.
"Give us a few months to finalize private financing," Cropp said at an afternoon news conference at the John A. Wilson Building. "If not, the legislation stands."

Baseball President Robert A. DuPuy, who was informed of Cropp's statement by a reporter, rejected her request.

"We are expecting the Dec. 31 commitment date to be fulfilled," DuPuy said in an interview. He added: "We are not negotiating. We made our concessions in the course of negotiations with the mayor and made some clarifications we thought would satisfy the mayor and the council."

I hate HATE defending Dupuy, but he’s right. Linda Cropp even conceded as much:
Cropp acknowledged that the list of concessions Williams presented to her Monday night met every one of those demands. But she said she wanted more, and that she gave Williams "language, amendments I had written" to take back to baseball officials. She described those amendments yesterday in vague terms, saying she wanted more "shared costs."

This is why everyone is criticizing her as opposed to Fenty, Catania et al. They were consistent in their opposition. Whereas, Cropp waffled back and forth, showing strong support one day and intense scrutiny another. Certainly politicians should be allowed to look at the issues more closely and are allowed to change their mind--if all politicians took that oversight role seriously, we’d be in great shape as a nation--but Cropp’s actions lacked any sort of basic integrity. There’s a not-so-fine line between serious deliberation and complete disingenuousness.

Despite the National’s Threat Level increasing, there were other signs of optimism.
Council members Jack Evans, Harold Brazil and Vincent B. Orange Sr. said at a separate press conference at the Wilson Building that baseball officials are not opposed to private investors contributing to the stadium project. But baseball wants the city's assurance that the stadium will be built, and Mrs. Cropp's amendment removed that guarantee by voiding the deal if private financing fails. "Mrs. Cropp came up with the private-financing deal before and she couldn't find [the financing] and the mayor couldn't find it," said Mr. Orange, Ward 5 Democrat. "What makes anybody think we're going to find it in two weeks?"

Plenty of businesses seem to be lining up with private financing proposals. (Some more hair-brained than others--scroll down for Empire Poker’s interesting plan)

The Washington Post gets Congressman Tom Davis on the record with his positive forecast.
Davis, who said that Congress should not get directly involved, said he thinks the chances are "better than 50-50" that the Washington deal will survive.
Davis said that baseball owners were not locked into a "take it or leave it" mode and ventured that the parties could probably sit down "and find 20 ways to make it work."
Davis said that the District should make the first move and that D.C. Council members would damage Washington's national business image for "this mayor, the next mayor and the next" if they did not reach an agreement.

In short, there’s still plenty of time for something to get done. Baseball, especially in the short-term, needs DC. I think there are enough billions of dollars floating around on both sides to get something done. Last Tuesday’s vote wasn’t the equivalent of draping a sheet over the corpse. The patient’s clearly on life support, but there’s still hope.

If you support the stadium bill, it certainly can’t hurt to send a short e-mail to dccouncilmembers@dccouncil.us.

Even if you live outside of the District, let them know that they’d be losing the tax revenue from tickets, parking, concessions and entertainment that you’d be spending in DC, instead of Maryland or Virginia. Be polite. Be brief. Be respectful.

I’m usually wary of public financing for stadiums, but the multi-jurisdictions that would utilize this stadium may have a positive effect on the city. The studies that I’ve read have never dealt with the unique circumstances of this area, so I’m going to keep open minded. Combined with my selfishness in my desire for baseball, I’m inclined to support it. If you do too, let Cropp and the others know.

2 Comments:

  • Here's my posting:

    Just wanted to let you know that, as a Virginia resident (Pent. City)

    I would be coming into DC at least 40-45 times to watch baseball

    and attend the local nightlife, if a baseball team moves here and if

    a new ballpark is built. (I would obviously also attend a whole bunch

    of games in a refurbished RFK stadium in the interim.) That money

    would be spent closer to home – in Arlington – if the team does not

    move into DC.



    Trust me, I’m no knee-jerk supporter of public financing for ballparks

    and I have long despised MLB owners who could care less about the

    well-being of their sport (see: 1994 strike) in favor of money. That said, the

    demagoguery about schools and hospitals losing funding is truly absurd and shameful.

    (Councilmembers Catania and Fenty, while I respect your principled and

    CONSISTENT stand, your pandering is truly shameful and I have told DC-area

    friends to withhold their votes for either of you for mayor.)



    Unlike cities that *Already* have teams, DC is in a much weaker bargaining

    position. St. Louis and San Fran may be able to get public financing because

    they have proven they are MLB-viable cities. Washington is still looked upon

    negatively, based that two other teams left the city and it really is time to realize

    while the proposed MLB deal isn’t perfect, the positives outweigh the negatives

    and it isn’t worth potentially permanently losing baseball into DC.



    Chairwoman Cropp, your behavior and two-faced attitude has really given

    a black mark to DC. Even if I agree with you somewhat on the merits of

    your position, offering an 11th hour amendment without talking to ANYONE

    about your plan is inexplicable. I don’t know who you’ve been talking to,

    but even colleagues who are anti-stadium cannot believe your counterproductive

    legislative maneuvers – and would never vote for you as mayor.



    Tens-of-thousands of people – DC residents and non-DC residents alike –

    have placed their hopes on getting MLB back. Clearly, the deal isn’t perfect

    but it’s also not a bad deal either for the city. I agree with Andrew Zimbalist

    and generally oppose fully publicly-financed stadiums. BUT: the DC-area is

    unique because many of the attendees are from outside the area and basically

    are paying taxes to the city when they come to the games, which changes

    the equation substantially. And, the proposed site is currently a blighted

    part of town and the aesthetic improvement that would likely occur if the

    ballpark was built can’t be measured by numbers alone.



    PLEASE amend the previous bill to show that DC can conduct business

    honestly – and perhaps you can retain the possibility that private financing

    can be a part of the bill. Just don’t force baseball to leave because you

    added a last-second amendment that wouldn’t guarantee a new ballpark

    would be built.

    By Blogger Josh, at 12/17/2004 2:06 PM  

  • Thanks for sharing. It's very well written.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 12/17/2004 2:59 PM  

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