Sunday, March 05, 2006

MLB Relents, Accepts Lease!

Thanks to Mr. Anonymous for pointing it, but washingtonpost.com is reporting that MLB has agreed to the $611 million lease the DC Council approved last month! I figured they'd take it right to the deadline!

No stories yet, just a headline. I'll link when I find them!

Here's the Post story. Not much news up there yet, but they're good about filling out the story at the same link.

  • Marc Fisher has time for punditry.

  • The AP article notes that MLB made some counterdemands. When I see some specifics, I'll post 'em.

  • The League-run, Internet-only news service takes their swing, and fills in some more details:
    "Everyone has to compromise so the Nationals can enjoy a strong future. We are offering a compromise that I call on District leaders to support."

    MLB is requesting the City Council agree not to adopt any additional "conflicting legislation" that will violate the terms of the signed lease; that the city will immediately move forward and issue bonds for the funding of the stadium; that the Ballpark Act passed on December 21, 2004, remain available as the legal vehicle to finance the project, and that the District's Attorney General issue a legal opinion to the public affirming the legality of the signed agreement.

    "I urge the City to accept this compromise," DuPuy said. "We all have worked long and hard and it's time to give the Nationals a new stadium and a strong future by bringing this matter to a successful close."

    A successful close for MLB, that's for sure. What a disingenuous bastard. I'm relieved, too, to see that the MLB.com writer took it upon himself to list all the different ways that MLB has bent over backwards, only now deciding to settle for a scant $600 Million. They've sacrificed every step of the way, dammit! MLB is the only organization that can make me root for the DC Council.

  • The Post has updated their story. Key graf:
    The document contains a number of conditions, however, including the provision that it does not become legally binding if the city enacts further legislation that is contrary to the stadium funding plan that the council passed [1]. Another condition calls for excess ballpark tax revenue earmarked for debt service for the bonds to be available for cost overruns [2]. Cropp and some other council members have voiced strong opposition to that clause, but baseball officials called on the city to compromise in the interest of getting the stadium built [3].

    Another condition says that the lease will not go into effect until the city can "move forward and secure funding for the stadium," the MLB statement said. Baseball officials could not be reached late yesterday to explain precisely what that would mean.

    Few thoughts...
    [1] This is MLB reemphasizing that they don't want private financing. They need a fully paid public stadium (preferably one that's going into an area with potential for econ. development) so that they can hold the next city up. They want to hold DC up as the shining city on a hill.

    [2] This is the Williams plan that he floated last week. It's probably safe to say that he floated that as a trial balloon to gauge reaction, but also to start greasing the skids. I don't think anyone on the Council will like it, particularly because Mayor Williams had previously mentioned that these funds could be used for city services.

    By way of background, our Wall Street overlords are demanding that DC take out more money than they need. The extra money was going to enhance the treasury, but will now go to cost overruns, essentially circumventing the cap. While the amount of money borrowed lies within the cap, the amount of potential extra spending on the stadium wasn't expected or accounted for in the stadium legislation.

    [3] Just out of curiousity, where is MLB compromising? On the $20 million payment they're making for VIP parking, which wasn't originally included in the stadium plan? On accepting $611 million in funding instead of the $500 from previous iterations of the lease?

    Essentially, MLB mugged the city. As they were walking away, Mayor Williams reached into his shoe, hollered for Dupuy and said, "hey, buddy! You didn't get the money I keep in my shoe!" Dupuy walks back, takes the twenty, feels sympathetic, reaches into his pocket and leaves Williams with a nickle under the guise of compromise.

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