Logosm.gif (1927 bytes)
navlinks.gif (4688 bytes)
Hruler04.gif (5511 bytes)

Back to DC Sports and Entertainment Commission main page

Deputy Mayor/City Administrator Robert C. Bobb
Committee on Economic Development and Committee on Finance and Revenue Joint Hearing on the “Ballpark Omnibus Financing and Revenue Act of 2004,” Bill 15-1028
October 28, 2004




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
Phil Mendelson
Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


DCWatch Archives
Council Period 12
Council Period 13
Council Period 14

Election 1998
Election 2000
Election 2002

Election 2004
Election 2006

Government and People
Anacostia Waterfront Corporation
Boards and Com
Campaign Finance
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Management Officer
City Council
Control Board
Corporation Counsel
DC Agenda
Elections and Ethics
Fire Department
FOI Officers
Inspector General
Housing and Community Dev.
Human Services
Mayor's Office
Mental Health
Motor Vehicles
Neighborhood Action
National Capital Revitalization Corp.
Planning and Econ. Dev.
Planning, Office of
Police Department
Property Management
Public Advocate
Public Libraries
Public Schools
Public Service Commission
Public Works
Regional Mobility Panel
Sports and Entertainment Com.
Taxi Commission
Telephone Directory
University of DC
Water and Sewer Administration
Youth Rehabilitation Services
Zoning Commission

Issues in DC Politics

Budget issues
DC Flag
DC General, PBC
Gun issues
Health issues
Housing initiatives
Mayor’s mansion
Public Benefit Corporation
Regional Mobility
Reservation 13
Tax Rev Comm
Term limits repeal
Voting rights, statehood
Williams’s Fundraising Scandals


Appleseed Center
Cardozo Shaw Neigh.Assoc.
Committee of 100
Fed of Citizens Assocs
League of Women Voters
Parents United
Shaw Coalition



What Is DCWatch?

themail archives


Robert C. Bobb 
Deputy Mayor and City Administrator

Testimony of Robert C. Bobb
Deputy Mayor/City Administrator

District of Columbia Committees on Economic Development and Finance and Revenue
Major League Baseball in the District of Columbia
October 28 2004

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is Robert C. Bobb, City Administrator for the District of Columbia. I welcome the opportunity to speak with you and the people our city, to share the facts on why Major League Baseball should become a part of the community tapestry in the District of Columbia. We are faced with the challenge of making the best decision for the future of our city by looking at the merits on what baseball can bring to the District. The true strength of any community is best measured in how it rises to the task of recognizing opportunities and confronting challenges.

Today, the District faces both - we have an opportunity to bring baseball back to our City and in doing so, create a vehicle for economic growth, job creation and community investment-and we will not do this in isolation from the Anacostia waterfront, the ballpark's intended community. And we also have a challenge-many of the people of our city hold differing views about the right way to bring baseball back to the District.

While I enthusiastically support our proposal to bring Major League Baseball to the District of Columbia, at the end of the day, we may not all come to agreement on every issue. However, we are committed to a dialogue that is respectful of these differences and seeks to find common ground wherever possible-because baseball is not about one part of our City; it is not about any party or group; it is about seizing a historic opportunity for our entire city.

This proposal will not only bring a ballpark to our city, it is a solid investment in our local businesses and workforce because this administration is committed to our local businesses-particularly our. minority businesses. The project brings guaranteed and permanent jobs for District residents and will contribute the economic development of Anacostia and local businesses throughout the city.

As part of my brief testimony, I will focus on two points. First, I assert that investing in a new ball park is not a unique concept for either large or small cities. Second, I pose that a new ballpark and other similar venues can attract ancillary development in the areas surrounding the project and across our city.

The first point is that the District of Columbia, by investing in a new baseball park, is not different from many large and small U.S. cities. In fact, according to research by Horrow Sports Ventures, since 1992, there have been 79 major league stadiums and arenas modernized or developed in the United States at a cost of $12 billion. This is in addition to 70 minor league facilities and 12 motorsports facilities built during that time.

There have been 21 facilities modernized or developed for National Football League teams at a cost of $4.5 billion. Overall, there have been 256 sports, arts, convention, and entertainment facilities developed in the United States in the past 12 years at a total cost of $19.4 billion.

While many facilities have been built in large metropolitan areas such as Chicago (Comiskey Park), Atlanta (Turner Field), and Los Angeles (Staples Center), most have been developed in smaller regions such as Mercer County in Trenton, Bi Lo Center in Greenville, and convention facilities in Houma, Louisiana, Omaha, Nebraska, and Savannah, Georgia. So, it follows that while public funding for sports and entertainment facilities typically generates widespread community controversy, there have been over 95 facilities built as part of downtown development master plans in the last decade.

My second point is that bringing baseball back to the District will bring vital economic revitalization to the Anacostia Waterfront and will stimulate economic growth across our city. Before I came to DC, I was part of a delegation that went to every new major ballpark in the country that was built in the past 10 years. These cities included Seattle, Denver, Cleveland, Baltimore, San Francisco, and Detroit.

As a result of these trips, the delegation commissioned economist Dr. David Fike to synopsize what we found. Dr. Fike reported that the potential economic impact from a new ballpark project is ancillary development in the area surrounding the project. This ancillary development is stimulated by at least three factors:

  1. An increase in people visiting the area on their way to or from a ballgame.
  2. A reduction in perceived risk by private developers resulting from the "anchor" development.
  3. A reduction in perceived risk by private lenders resulting from "anchor development and subsequent increases in private sector participation in the development of the area.

The delegation found that critical factors for enhancing the economic revitalization impact of a new ballpark project are:

  1. The ancillary development impact is enhanced if the ballpark location and design facilitates ingress and egress through pedestrian friendly streetscapes.
    Ballparks located away from an urban core and surrounded by a "sea of parking spaces" do not encourage ancillary development to "capture" any benefit from visitors to the park.
    All of the parks visited were designed to integrate with the surrounding area in ways that were aesthetically appealing and that encouraged a pedestrianfriendly scale of development immediately surrounding the ballpark.
    In our proposal for the ballpark, we are creating a community that incorporates the spirit of the former neighborhood. By including thoroughfares and retail shops that welcome visitors and encouraging them to stay in the area, the project will use well designed streetscapes to enhance the Anacostia waterfront.
  2. The ancillary development impact can be accelerated if the ballpark is located close to existing building stock and to currently existing economic activity, even if this activity is limited in scope.
    Rehabilitation of existing structures is typically less expensive than new construction and the delegation observed that ancillary developments often began with rehabilitation projects, to be followed shortly by new construction.
    For example, in Denver and Cleveland, the relatively close proximity of Coors Field and Jacobs Field to existing building stock and current economic activity has been credited with accelerating the rehabilitation of many nearby buildings for housing and commercial use.
    As Jacobs Field opened in Cleveland in 1995, more than 20 restaurants and retail establishments opened. for business; and more than 85 storefronts were renovated at a cost of $1.2 million. -The downtown development-oriented Gateway Project created 6,269 permanent jobs in 1994, generating $6.5 million in payroll taxes.
    On the other hand, the members of the tour observed that some new "urban" ballparks, such as Seattle's Safeco Field, have been constructed sufficiently far from the "economically active" region of downtown that according to economic development professionals who spoke with the delegation, the revitalization impact will take "10 to 15 years."
    This centrally located project will build on an area that already has significant and development. Investment by the District and the federal government, make this site a prime location that is close to the Arthur Capper Hope VI, the Federal Department of Transportation, the South East Federal Center, and the Navy Yard.
  3. The ancillary development impact is large if the ballpark is part of a land use plan that utilizes existing public infrastructure investments and leverages new large-scale infrastructure investments.
    As stated by economists who have studied the economics of ballparks extensively and independently: "only when a sports venue is complemented by a year-round business district or residential neighborhoods will there be appreciable independent investment activity."
    For example, the economic revitalization impact of the area near Baltimore's Camden Yards has clearly been stimulated by public and private investment activity in the nearby Inner Harbor area.
    The ballpark plan takes into account the major infrastructure improvements that are slated to happen. The plan leverages the major investments to improve South Capital Street and the rebuild of the South Capital Bridge, which have been approved by Mayor Williams and Congress.

While our delegation traveled near and far to come to these realizations, one need look no further than the transformation of the 7th Street area, following the construction. of the MCI Center, to know that professional sports arenas can be terrific vehicles for generating new investment and jobs.

Dr. Fike surmised that it would be a mistake if a ballpark project goes forward in isolation from the potential for catalyzing economic development in its surrounding area. If a project is not viewed as integrally related to creating a "sense of place" outside the park as well as inside, then the civic leadership will miss a valuable opportunity to significantly leverage any public participation in the effort. In the District, we cannot miss this important opportunity.

With the return of baseball, we look forward to a vital and active new partner in our community. In that spirit, Mayor Williams was very pleased to announce the establishment ,of a Community Development Fund that will be financed by revenues generated by ballpark-related economic activity. This Fund will make resources available for parks, recreation centers, youth sports facilities and other vital priorities across the city.

We are proud that this project is bringing together so many diverse groups - from organized labor to business; from community leaders to city managers; from baseball coaches to clergy. The Williams Administration looks forward to continuing to expand this partnership.

Baseball belongs to all the people of DC-and we look forward to continue working with the Council, the business community and people across the city as we move forward with seizing this great opportunity and taking another step forward for the District.

Back to top of page

Send mail with questions or comments to webmaster@dcwatch.com
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)