Wednesday, December 14, 2005

We're Doomed

The Post and Times each have their cracks at yesterday's hearing. It doesn't look good for passage.

From the Times:
Mr. Brown said he likely would vote against the lease agreement unless something changes before Tuesday.

"We asked the private developers if they would contribute, and they all said no," Mr. Brown said. "So that leaves us with one other option, and that's the District of Columbia. I have an obligation to the residents of the District of Columbia to vote no. I don't know what would change my mind."

A vote against the lease by Mr. Brown could give victory to ballpark opponents on the council.

If the lease is rejected next Tuesday, who knows what would happen? Friend to bloggers, T(h)om Loverro writes that the council feels emboldened because of that uncertainty. He suggests that MLB is going to need to play tough now, but that their position is weakened because of the attractiveness of the DC market. He's right.

The Council finds itself in a position of strength because MLB has overplayed its hand. It's clear that MLB is going to have to give the city some sort of real concession to ram the lease through -- and I'm not talking about the $20 million upfront for $50 million worth of assets kind of concession either!

Would the council consider RFK? I can't see that even being the compromise solution at this point, because of the environmental costs, and the marginal cost savings compared to the southeast site.

One interesting note from the Post's account:
[T]he city earned $37.5 million in tax revenue during the Nationals' first season -- from a gross receipts tax on businesses, a utilities tax on businesses and federal buildings, and a stadium concessions tax.

There was a time that the city's revenues were considered disappointing. Nearly $40 million can't be a disappointment, and you'd think that the pro-stadium side would be emphasizing this.

We're not quite back to square one, but we're definitely in uncharted waters. The bonds are supposed to be in place by the end of the year, but there aren't any real penalties for that for at least two years -- and even then, it's not clear that there's any recourse for MLB other than to move the team, which is highly unlikely anyway.

Wake me up when it's over.


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