Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rooms To Let, Fifty Cents

The Moonie Times finally does some actual reportin', uncovering one of the key holdups in the drawn out lease negotiations: MLB wants to weasel out of its financial responsibility. Shocking, huh?

This holdup centers on disasters. In the case of terrorist attack, hurricane, earthquake, plague, another Bonus March, alien invasion, or just a stiff breeze, MLB doesn't want the team to have to pay rent for games not played.

Don't you wish you could tell your landlord/mortgage company that you're not going to pay for nights that you don't spend in your house? Wouldn't that be great?

The catch is that DC needs those rent payments guaranteed for all thirty years because their Wall Street overlords demand it. Those Wall Street overlords mean business. They're not going to have faith that DC will honor its obligations -- they want to see the cash flow in writing before the next Marion Barry takes over.

The answer:
Mark Rosentraub, a sports economics professor at Cleveland State University, said insurance usually will cover any business loss resulting from switching stadiums and that all the parties must decide is who pays the premium.

In the District, any losses resulting from war or terrorism likely would be covered by the federal government. And closure of the stadium because of weather-related problems like a hurricane is viewed as an unlikely event, meaning premiums are relatively low.

OK, so that shouldn't be too hard to solve then. But then reality slaps me aside the head and I realize that we're dealing with MLB and the DC Gov't. A match made in hell.

The WaPo also notes that MLB may be backing away, in the interest of expediency, from the newly created requirement that the lease be done before ownership selected. Unfortunately, it's another throwaway quote from Bob Dupuy, which, if you parse it correctly, doesn't actually mean anything:
If negotiations bog down, "then we will have to review the situation," DuPuy said yesterday in Houston. "We have to get the new owners in place before next season. It's not fair to the new owners to not have this done."

Ifs and thens are easy outs for MLB.

While that's all going on, DC took control of 16 pieces of property at the stadium site, after having worked out deals with the 7 others. As part of the eminent domain process, the residents have ninety days to clear out, unless a court orders an injunction. And even Harriet Miers knows that that's unlikely to happen given the Supreme Court's recent Kelo decision.