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John L. Richardson, Chairman, D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission
Testimony at Committee on Finance and Revenue public hearing on “Ballpark Revenue Amendment Act of 2003,” Bill 15-270
June 12, 2003




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John L. Richardson, Chairman
D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission

before the

Council of the District of Columbia
Committee on Finance and Revenue

Public Hearing on

Ballpark Revenue Amendment Act of 2003
Thursday, June 12, 2003
10:00 a.m.

For years, we have all recognized that the key strategic Baseball goal for the City (and therefore the Sports and Entertainment Commission) has been to make certain that we have done whatever we need to do to assure that we can say YES when Baseball asks if we are ready for the return of Major League Baseball to Washington. And together I believe we have achieved that goal.

Over the most recent period of intensive baseball activity, the Commission has enhanced and developed its professional staff so that we will be able to accept and carry out the baseball responsibilities we anticipate. We have devoted our resources toward the creation of a new and better directed approach to convince Baseball that it should come to Washington and should come now. And we have invested our retained earnings in our physical assets and our staff to demonstrate to all that we know how to preserve, protect and improve our facilities and to show that we will be able to perform at the highest standards when the call from Baseball comes.

To be sure, we made these investments for other reasons as well - to retain our soccer and our other current patrons; to be faithful to our obligations to Washington's sports and entertainment fans, the best fans in the world; to make it realistic for us to be able to attract more, better and different sports and entertainment events to our facilities for the benefit of all the citizens in the region; to convince Major League Soccer that it can confidently invest with us in a new soccer stadium in Washington; and to permit us to satisfy the many other obligations the Council and the Mayor expect from us.

But we have also recognized that every decision we considered, every expenditure we made, every improvement we implemented would, among other things, help us achieve our baseball goal.

And all our decisions were part of a designed strategy which was debated publicly and approved step by step, investment by investment, by our Board of Directors and which was integrated into our budgets and operations plans which were reviewed and approved by the Executive and the Council.

I believe we are now at a very critical juncture in the process. I believe we can now reasonably anticipate the long awaited call from Baseball. And I believe we are certainly ready to accept that call and respond with confidence.

Mayor Williams and Deputy Mayor Price have developed a financing package that is clearly responsive to the challenge Major League Baseball has given us. The package is balanced and reasonable. It satisfies the standards we all agreed to months ago in that it is based on newly generated revenue streams that would not be available but for baseball. Its goals are those that are needed, and those goals are predictably achievable. And, although there has been some skepticism about some of the details of some of the elements, by and large, except for those opposed to any public support for a ballpark; there is consensus that we should move forward with the Mayor's plan with confidence and enthusiasm.

I am here to encourage the Council to do just that. I firmly believe the stars are now very nearly in alignment and that we are very close to success in this long struggle to return baseball to Washington. All we have to do is continue to work together to do what has to be done. Thank you.

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