Back to DC Sports and Entertainment Commission main page
Government and People
GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
Robert C. Bobb
Testimony of Robert C. Bobb
District of Columbia Committees on Economic Development and Finance and Revenue
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:
The delegation found that critical factors for enhancing the economic revitalization impact of a new ballpark project are:
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 email@example.com
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)