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

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.


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