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Washington's baseball dream 'close to dying'

By Joseph White, Associated Press, 12/16/2004

WASHINGTON (AP) Baseball's response to Washington's lawmakers was strong, swift and ominous. Or, as Mayor Anthony A. Williams put it: ''The dream of 33 years is now once again close to dying.''

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball shut down business and promotional operations indefinitely for the team that has been relocating from Montreal. Baseball essentially gave the city 15 days to change its mind about a new financing plan, or else the search could begin anew for a permanent home for the troubled franchise.

At issue is a measure passed late Tuesday by the District of Columbia Council, which voted to approve the Expos' move to Washington if private financing is used for at least half the cost of building a stadium. Baseball has been adamant that a stadium be funded with 100 percent government money up front, as stipulated in a September agreement negotiated with Williams.

''The legislation is inconsistent with our carefully negotiated agreement and is wholly unacceptable to Major League Baseball,'' said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer.

Season-ticket sales were immediately halted, and the 16,000 fans who have made $300 deposits can ask for a refund. The stadium store, which had sold more than $100,000 in caps and other merchandise over 3

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Bid to return baseball to capital gets new life

By Brett Zongker, Associated Press, 12/21/2004

WASHINGTON (AP) Major league baseball in the nation's capital may not be dead after all.

After a day of negotiations among the mayor's office, baseball officials and the head of the District of Columbia city council, leaders announced an agreement Monday night they said would revive a deal to move baseball's Montreal Expos to Washington.

The council was to vote on the revised package Tuesday.

The compromise reached by Mayor Anthony A. Williams, D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp and baseball officials cuts at least $100 million from the city's overall costs for a 41,000-seat stadium on the Anacostia River south of the Capitol by allowing for private financing.

The facility's total cost, including street improvements and other infrastructure upgrades, has been estimated at a minimum $440 million and upwards.

The revised deal also splits the liability for cost overruns and missed construction deadlines evenly between the city and Major League Baseball, said Williams spokesman Chris Bender.

Last week, the council approved a Cropp-sponsored requirement that private money cover half the cost of actual stadium construction, now estimated at $249 million, jeopardizing the team's move. Baseball rejected that provision and halted promotional, marketing and sales operations for the team.

The city faces a Dec. 31 deadline for an agreement to build the stadium as part of a deal with baseball owners to move the Expos here as the renamed Washington Nationals.

Under the accord, Williams' office will keep the council informed on all private funding proposals it receives. In return, Cropp agreed to drop a provision she inserted last week that voids the deal if the city can not find a private donor to pay half the construction costs.

Baseball officials were optimistic that the plan would meet their expectations.

''We remain hopeful that the council will pass legislation consistent with the stadium agreement so we can move forward with the Nationals in D.C.,'' said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, who negotiated by telephone from New York.

The effort to bring major league baseball back to the capital 33 years after the Washington Senators moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to become the Texas Rangers has not been without controversy locally.

A poll published by the Washington Post on Monday found that 56 percent of city residents surveyed favored private funding to pay for half the cost of a baseball stadium. Nearly 53 percent favored the private funding requirement, which was not part of the city's talks with baseball owners, even if it led owners to move the Expos elsewhere.

From Boston.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

In a way I was kinda proud of DC's council standing up to MLB, I love the new parks but talk about huge corporate welfare checks the taxpayers are left holding the bag on, MLB needs to be more like the English soccer league all their stadiums I have heard are financed 100% by the teams and this in a nation that is no stranger to socialism with corporate welfare (BAirways, Rolls Royce etc. at least up until the 1980s).

On another note though great to see MLB back in DC, glad they didn't take the Grays name, that is actually a Pittsburgh team (that played some of their seasons in DC near the end of the NLB era). DC definetly shares that tradition but the great moments were Pittsburgh's (at least in my mind ;) ) Josh Gibson was a steelworker on the Mon afterall!

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  • 1 month later...

Iam glad baseball is comming to DC and Esp the Waterfront down there. When i moved out on my own I moved into an apartment near the waterfront mall (not really at mall just 2 stores open) and it was a rough area. and I go to some of the warehouse clubs over in the area. Iam finally glad to see something being done with this area it has tons of potenial and it would be a great place to live close to metro and the 395/495 and all the gov centers and close to the new downtown retail like it was back in the 40's-50's before the roits. iam glad I live in DC I couldnt think of living anywhere else. it's an amazing city. you can have senators and poor people living on the same block as I did in SW and then you have Georgetown where I live now its a shopping mecca for the rich and now iam moving to the U st. area once again another growing area.



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The name of the baseball team.  *drum roll*  the SENATORS!

Didn't we all know that was coming!


You probably all know this already, but the name of the team is the DC Nationals. They're going to be playing in RFK for a few years until a stadium is built along the Southwest waterfront near the navy yard.

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  • 9 months later...

Washington needs a new ball park. I've spent a lot of time this summer at the old stadium RFK cheering for the Nationals. Although RFK is merely adequate, that is simply not enough - not nice enough, not good enough, not new enough, not anything enough, take your pick. This city is the capitol of the country and the old and tired stadium is not a very good representative to the rest of the country.

Yes, the place has great sight lines for a baseball game, but the seats are uncomfortable, the aisles are kind of tight, the food and beverage vending is on a par with the Sabrett's carts on the street. The architecture is 1960's brutalist concrete; the parking lots are vast, confusing, and full of broken asphalt; the players' lot was broken into this summer and cars vandalized, looted, and in 1 or 2 cases, stolen - fortunately, the RFK administration cleaned up its act and fixed that problem. The electronic scoreboards are small and hard to read. The announcers' voices are often garbled by an ancient sound system.

I expect to spend lots more time at Nationals' ball games, and I hope in a few years to sit in a well-designed and well-built new stadium. As a resident from Virginia commuting to work into DC, I'd even be willing to pay a commuter tax if it will help the city to build a first-rate ball park.

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First of all, welcome to the forum Rachel. This is the first posting I have seen from you (at least as moderator) so I wanted to be sure to extend that to you. I have never been to the stadium personally but from your description it sounds as if a new one would be warranted. Reading the posts above though I see there are also those against building a new stadium. $535,000,000 is a lot of money to spend just on a stadium. Perhaps they may cut back and still end up with a nice one ?

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Looks like Mayor Williams requested delay on lease vote.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday requested that the D.C. Council delay a vote on a critical stadium lease deal with Major League Baseball that was supposed to take place tomorrow so that technical changes can be made to the lease agreement.

full story

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I have no special place in my heart for RFK Stadium. It is a disgusting lump of concrete which truly deserves to be imploded into history. I still don't think the District has any business funding a new baseball stadium when so much of the city is still a disgraceful mess. If the multi-billionaire team owners want a new stadium, let them fund it without public money. DC has too many other priorities righ now without adding $600,000,000.00 on its already overflowing plate of civic priorities. Maybe get Northeast, Southwest or Southeast rebuilt beforehand...

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