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NO DC Taxes for Baseball
Press release
November 8, 2004




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NO DC Taxes for Baseball


For immediate release:
November 8, 2004
Ed Lazere, 202-408-1080
Chris Weiss, 202-222-0746

NO DC Taxes for Baseball! Campaign Calls for a Better Stadium Deal, Applauds Chairman Cropp's Unwillingness to Accept Baseball “At Any Cost”

The baseball stadium deal that Mayor Williams negotiated with Mayor League Baseball should be re-negotiated to shift costs and financial risks to the new team owners, according to a set of principles laid out today by the No DC Taxes for Baseball campaign. The coalition also wants more benefits of the stadium to flow to the District rather than the team.

Council Chair Linda Cropp's effort to limit the cost of a new stadium — by proposing to build it at RFK — should be applauded, because it acknowledges that hte Mayor's plan to bring baseball to DC “at any cost” is financially risky. The No DC Taxes for Baseball campaign has not taken a position on Ms. Cropp's proposal, though it believes the proposal should be considered seriously if it can reduce the overall cost of the deal and if non-financial issues (such as neighborhood support) can be addressed.

Beyond lowering overall construction costs, however, the Campaign believes that more of the costs and risks of the stadium should be borne by the team owners who stand to profit.

  • The new team owners should be required to pay a substantial share of stadium construction costs. Under the mayor's proposal, the team's only contribution would be a $5.5 million annual lease payment. No DC Taxes for Baseball calls on the Council to require the team also to pay some of the up-front costs, so that the size of DC's stadium bond could be reduced.
  • The District's overall stadium subsidy -- including costs for construction and for infrastructure improvements around the stadium -- should be capped. Liability for cost overruns should fall squarely on the team. Under the mayor's proposal, the District would pay for all cost overruns.

"Major League Baseball has unfairly demanded that the District bear most of the costs and risks of the stadium, while preserving all of the benefits for the team owners," said Ed Lazere, a representative of the Campaign. "The DC Council has got to be able to get a better deal for DC residents."

In addition to these changes, the No DC Taxes for Baseball Campaign calls on the Council to seek the following improvements to the stadium deal:

  • The provision requiring the District to pay the team for lost profits if the stadium opens late should be eliminated.
  • The provision limiting the District's use of the stadium to 12 days a year should be eliminated. (Chairman Cropp also opposed this.) The District should be able to use the stadium as often as it wants, as long as that does not interfere with the baseball schedule. In addition, if the team chooses to sublease the stadium for a non-baseball event, revenues should be shared with the District rather than going entirely to the team.
  • The team's lease payment currently is set to rise at just two percent per year, but not at all if attendance in the prior year was below-average. This should be changed to require an annual increase at least at the rate of inflation.

"Many people want baseball back in Washington, but not at any cost," said Chris Weiss, a representative of the No DC Taxes for Baseball Campaign. "We cannot afford to hand a blank check over to Major League Baseball."

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