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Mayor Anthony A. Williams
Speech supporting South Capitol Avenue site for ballpark
November 8, 2004




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Mayor Anthony A. Williams
Address on the Rebirth of the Anacostia Waterfront and Baseball

Monday, November 8, 2004
MCI Center
8:00 p.m.

(Washington, DC) Mayor Anthony A. Williams' remarks as prepared for delivery of address to city residents on Channel 16:

"Good evening. History is written in moments. In the story of our city, tomorrow is one of them. Tomorrow, our Council has an opportunity: To create thousands of new jobs, millions in new revenue-and revive one of the District's most treasured and tarnished jewels: the Anacostia River. >From a quiet, dirty, forgotten waterway, the Anacostia can flow into a vibrant, bustling center of residential and commercial life. 

"The opportunity is our Major League Baseball bill. For the sake of new jobs, homes, businesses - and a new River - I'm urging the Council to pass it. Like many of you, I'm a fan of baseball. But like every one of you, I'm a fan of this city. I believe in the District. In five years, we've done what it takes most cities decades to do: Gone are the deficits and receiverships. Gone are two-thousand abandoned properties and the Control Board.

"The number of insured is up. The number of people on welfare is down. Prescription drug coverage is up. Crime across the city is down. We're moving forward-and we're moving fast. I want that momentum to continue. And that's what I think baseball can do.

"Tonight, I'm speaking from the MCI Center. Remember 7th Street before MCI's arrival? Parking lots and traffic lights. Have you seen 7th Street since? The neon glow of restaurants and retail, the soft yellow of lights from condos-and the rhythm of workers making money and moving the economy. Thanks to development around the MCI Center, 34,500 people have jobs-and $141 million in tax revenue is flowing towards key city services. If the MCI Center has energized 7th Street, imagine what baseball can do for the Anacostia Waterfront. 

"I don't want baseball for the sake of having a team. I want baseball because it is the spark that will reignite the Anacostia River. In the stadium's wake will come housing, businesses, restaurants, grand parks, great walks-and a new face for a forgotten river. 

"Beyond the water, this development is about work. We estimate that the stadium will create 3,500 construction and permanent jobs. That's just the stadium. When it rises, more jobs will come. More tourists will need hotels-and those hotels will need workers. More fans will need food-and those fans will need waiters and waitresses to serve them. New businesses will come to the waterfront-and they will hire District residents. 

"Like water on the river, work from the stadium will ripple into the area, bringing good-paying jobs for men and women to support themselves and their families. 

"Finally, this development is about our communities. As part of our package, I've outlined a $400 million community investment fund. It's been endorsed by labor and faith leaders, and the Washington Interfaith Network. It creates new resources for our recreation centers, community health clinics, libraries and schools-priorities that affect you and your neighborhood.

"And we've done all of this without one dime of residents' money. Regardless of what you've heard, money for schools and social services won't pay for this. The ballpark will be financed by three sources-and three alone: An annual lease paid by the team owners. A tax on concessions at the ballpark. And a gross receipts tax on the city's largest businesses.

"Those are the opportunities. And those are facts. The facts are compelling. The opportunity is historic. Now, I know there are some different ideas out there. As late as last Friday - three days before the vote - Chairman Linda Cropp threw one out. She suggested moving the stadium to RFK-changing the deal that she helped us craft.

"I'm willing to compromise. I've done it throughout. Businesses charged us to improve the gross receipts tax. We've worked with them-and they support us. The community asked to fund their needs. We met with them-and we did it. But when it comes to compromise about the Anacostia - bringing jobs and development to its people - I'm not bending.

"Chairman Cropp has suggested no community benefits-no $400 million. No new money for health clinics. No new money for recreation centers. There's also nowhere for development to rise around RFK. In her plan, there are no new jobs. No new revenue. No new money for our priorities.

"As an individual - and as a Mayor - I believe in keeping commitments. Who are we, as people and as a city, if we don't? This city made a commitment: To build a ballpark on the waterfront. When Major League Baseball awarded us a team, we endorsed that commitment. I'm keeping it. It's time for others to keep it, too.

"In the past few weeks, my office and the Washington Baseball Club have received 13,000 letters supporting what we've proposed. One of them was from Da Quon Ferguson, a sixth-grader at Kimball Elementary. Da Quon wrote that he likes baseball because "it teaches me discipline" and "will provide leadership or role-models for kids such as myself."

"After 33 years, we're so close to Da Quon's dream. This is our moment, our time to write history: To build a new community. To energize a city treasure. To create thousands of new jobs. And to harness the power of millions in new revenue. 

"This is our moment. Tomorrow our test comes: Revive the Anacostia. Or let it languish for years to come. I urge the Council to pass our ballpark bill. And I urge our supporters to ask the Council to do just that. Thank you. God Bless you. And God Bless the District of Columbia."

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