Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Professional baseball, the endless subsidy

Washington, D.C. spends a lot of taxpayer money on its school system but most of it is spent on compensation for staff with the physical facilities being outmoded and in a poor state of repair. With some buildings over 100 years old and literally falling apart, the children of D.C. deserve better.

But the D.C. mayor and city council have little interest in constucting new school buildings and instead are willing to spend over $1/2 billion in taxpayer money for a baseball stadium to be rarely used and which will primarly benefit billionaire sports team owners. But now it appears that the $535 million projected will not be nearly enought to finish the stadium and related

At this point, the mayor and council are removing required road and subway improvements from the $535 allocation and plan (hope?) to have these expenses covered by others. But others certainly does not include the baseball team owners:

"Baseball cut a deal in good faith when they came on board here," Nationals President Tony Tavares said. "They entered into very detailed negotiations that were comprehensively written and that were expanded into a full lease on RFK and
a new building with all the accoutrements that come with it. Bottom line: Baseball has stayed the course and done everything it said it was going to do. The [stadium agreement] clearly stated that cost overruns were clearly the responsibility of the city."
And bseball cut a very good deal indeed:

The sports commission and Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) view the significant shift of money as necessary to meet the terms of the September 2004 stadium agreement with Major League Baseball. The promise of a stadium and all the revenue sources that come with it has allowed the league, whose 29 owners bought the Nationals three years ago for $120 million, to command $450 million for the franchise.
So, the public subsidy of $535 million translated to an immediate benefit to baseball owners of $330 million -- not a bad deal for them but a very poor one for the citizens of Washington, D.C.


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