Take Action for a Better Baseball Deal!
- PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO OTHERS
Once again we are writing to ask you to contact key D.C. Councilmembers Brown, Gray, Mendelson and Schwartz (phone numbers, e-mail addresses below) and urge them to:
* Vote to reject the new draft lease for the baseball stadium if -- as reported in the press -- it comes up for a vote on February 7.
* If the draft lease does not come up for a vote on February 7, push to delay the vote until such time as the new draft lease and the Construction Administration Agreement (CAA) -- which the Mayor has said will contain more information on how he reportedly plans to cap stadium costs -- can be considered together. The Council should not agree to an incremental approach whereby it approves the lease before it has in front of it a legally binding CAA that lays out how overall stadium costs will be capped and cost overruns paid for.
Please read the press release below and contact the 4 key councilmembers to tell them that the revised baseball stadium draft lease agreed to Friday by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams is unacceptable because of the following:
* The new draft lease appears to give away even more city assets (see press release below for details).
* Like the previous draft lease, the new draft still fails to provide for a true cap on stadium costs.
* It still fails to specify legally who will pay for cost overruns;
* It fails to provide for possibly shifting the stadium from the South Capitol site to a far less-expensive RFK Stadium site.
* The draft lease is only part of the whole picture; the council needs to have both the lease and the Construction Administration Agreement in front of it in order for the council to make an informed decision on either document.
* It contains small improvements around the margins, but does not in any way deal with the above serious issues, and does not obligate Major League Baseball any further to help cover the rising costs of the South Capitol stadium.
The Mayor spent time Friday lobbying Councilmembers Kwame Brown and Vincent Gray, in hopes of making them his number 6 and 7 votes for the lease (7 votes are needed to approve the lease.) In your calls and e-mails, please put Brown and Gray at the top of your list, followed by Phil Mendelson and Carol Schwartz. These 4 appear to hold the key to the outcome. They are on record as opposing the initial draft lease and seeking a much better deal, so we should congratulate them for their past positions and urge them to continue to oppose the revised draft lease for the reasons stated above and in the press release.
Below are the phone numbers and e-mail addresses for these 4 councilmembers. Also below is the press release from BetterDeal4DC that lays out reasons why the new draft lease is unacceptable. The new draft lease has been posted on the D.C. Council website of Councilmember David Catania.
Thank you so much for your efforts. And please pass this message on to others.
Kwame Brown, 724-8174, kbrown@...
Vincent Gray, 724-8068, vgray@...
Carol Schwartz, 724-8105, carol.schwartz@...
Phil Mendelson, 724-8064, pmendelson@...
A Citizens’ Coalition Opposed to Public Financing of a Baseball Stadium
For Information Contact:
Mary C. Williams
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (January 28, 2006)
Council Should Reject ‘Revised’ Stadium Draft Lease That Continues Giveaway to MLB, Citizens’ Coalition Says
The revised baseball stadium draft lease agreed to Friday by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams appears to give away even more city assets, still fails to provide for a true cap on stadium costs, still fails to legally specify who will pay for cost overruns, fails to provide for possibly shifting the stadium from South Capitol to a far less-expensive RFK Stadium site, and should be rejected immediately if a vote is taken by the Council, a citizens’ coalition said today.
“By not specifically addressing the cost overruns in a legally binding manner as Chairman Cropp herself demanded, the deal is still deficient and must be refused by the Council,” said David Mallof, a longtime D.C. resident who recently testified before the Council on the stadium deal’s failure to share the financial risks and rewards in a congruent manner.
BetterDeal4DC, a coalition of individuals and organizations opposed to public financing of a stadium, said the revised draft lease appears in certain respects to be even worse than the previous draft lease. According to news accounts, the revised draft lease expands the giveaway of public assets to Major League Baseball (MLB) by including a provision for the city to split with the team the proceeds of land sold for development at the south end of the stadium (57.5% for the city, and 42.5% for the team).
“By splitting these proceeds, Major League Baseball is taking more public assets and yet is bringing no more money to the deal to cover the incredible spiraling, out-of-control costs for a stadium at the South Capitol site,” said John Capozzi, former chairperson of the Barney Circle Neighborhood Association.
BetterDeal4DC said it could not see how city negotiators, after allowing MLB to receive virtually all of the revenue generated from the stadium, could then agree to split with MLB the added proceeds from land south of the stadium that will be expropriated by eminent domain and then subsequently sold to private interests for development. Likewise, the organization said the Mayor must explain why there is still no requirement that MLB and/or the new (yet-to-be-named) team owner pay for any cost overruns on the project, as has been customary in most recent stadium projects.
BetterDeal4DC said it appears from the marginal changes reportedly made to the draft lease that no serious negotiating on key issues went on between the city and Major League Baseball from the time Williams pulled the initial draft lease from Council consideration in late December until now. The baseball deal continues to be the biggest financial giveaway of a professional sports facility that any city has ever negotiated for the exclusive use of one team.
The organization said the Council should tell the Mayor to remove his current negotiating team and insist upon the original terms of the baseball agreement which caps the city’s all-inclusive contribution of public financing at $535 million -- including costs of land acquisition, environmental remediation, parking, roads, Metro and other infrastructure improvements. Any further negotiations with MLB must include Councilmembers critical of the draft lease as ex-officio members of the city’s negotiating team, BetterDeal4DC said.
“The Mayor may well have wasted critical time this past month by drumming up what appears to be a six-figure, feel-good public relations campaign to sell a weak stadium deal to the public. He surely wasted time by unethically sponsoring a campaign fundraiser for Councilmember Kathleen Patterson together with the main local lobbyist for Major League Baseball while a vote on the stadium draft lease is imminent,” said Mallof.
BetterDeal4DC said the lease should contain the same major provision as the $535 million stadium financing package, approved by the Council in December 2004, that would permit the city to shift the stadium to an RFK site.
“RFK has the infrastructure, adequate Metro, ample parking, no land acquisition costs, no legal actions over land acquisition that could tie up the site for months or years, and already known environmental issues,” said Shawn McCarthy, director of the sports watchdog group League of Fans. “This is in stark contrast to the far more expensive South Capitol site with its lack of infrastructure, inadequate Metro facilities, lack of parking, rising land acquisition costs that could go even higher with court decisions favoring landowners, and unknown environmental issues.”