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Stadium Analyses Put Cost Far Higher

$174 Million More May Be Required
By Serge F. Kovaleski and David Nakamura

The Washington Post
November 14, 2004

A proposed new stadium in Southeast Washington could cost up to $174 million more than the figure that District government leaders cited in their agreement with Major League Baseball and at community meetings aimed at winning support for the deal, according to interviews and documents.

In announcing a long-sought pact with baseball officials two months ago, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) put the price tag of building a ballpark at South Capitol and N streets and renovating Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, for interim use, at $440 million, most of it to be financed with public funds.

But an analysis by The Washington Post -- based on interviews with city officials, internal memos and e-mail obtained under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act -- shows that the cost could rise to $614 million if the District were to undertake all the infrastructure projects that might be needed to accommodate a team playing in Washington.

Most of the additional money is the nearly $100 million it could cost to expand Metro's Navy Yard rail station and move a major Metro maintenance garage. Officials at the transit agency said the District would be expected to cover those expenses.

The D.C. Department of Transportation estimates that it would cost $13.5 million to improve streets and sidewalks and add traffic signals and signs around the ballpark, a figure that could change after the stadium design is done.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Angels, City Still at Odds

By Bill Shaikin and Patrick McGreevy
The Los Angeles Times
November 13, 2004

Relations between the Angels and the city of Anaheim deteriorated further during a meeting Friday, when club President Dennis Kuhl refused the city's demand to say once and for all whether the team would change its name to the Los Angeles Angels.

Although the meeting was designed to ease tensions between the two sides, a plan to issue a joint statement collapsed. Kuhl issued a statement that did not mention the possibility of a name change; the city's statement focused on that issue and blistered the Angels for being "unwilling to publicly clarify their position" and "not committed to honoring the terms of their lease."

In the meeting, city officials emphasized there would be no negotiation on the topic. The Angel Stadium lease requires the team to be called the Anaheim Angels, and the City Council voted this week to sue if the team proceeds with the name change.

"From our standpoint, it's still a concept," Angel spokesman Tim Mead said. "It doesn't become more definitive because they've threatened a lawsuit."

City officials appear convinced the Angels might make the change shortly and plan to act accordingly. The council will consider Tuesday whether to sue on the basis that removal of the city name in team publicity constitutes a de facto violation of the lease, spokesman John Nicoletti said.

Read the entire article here on the Los Angeles Times website

Season ticket sale to begin Thursday

By Eric Fisher
The Washington Times
November 13, 2004

Major League Baseball's Washington franchise will begin collecting deposits for 2005 season tickets Thursday, ending several weeks of delays in establishing a ticket distribution system.

With no team name in place and the D.C. Council more than two weeks away from ratifying stadium financing, the long-awaited ticketing announcement provides the first visible sign of the club's re-establishment in Washington.

"It's been a long time coming, but things are finally beginning to settle into place," said Kevin Uhlich, a special consultant assisting team president Tony Tavares. "This is a major component of making this relocation happen."

Several key pieces of the ticketing equation, however, are not publicly known. A baseball seating chart for RFK Stadium, where the team will play for three seasons, has not been released. Nor has a detailed price list, though season tickets will average between $24 and $26 a game, coming to about $2,000 for the season, and the cheapest upper-deck seats will be $7 a game. The most expensive seats are being targeted at $45 a game.

But those details will be firmed up and e-mailed by Wednesday to fans who sign up at either, the official team site, or, the Web site operated by the prospective ownership group led by Fred Malek.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website

Delay likely in vote on ballpark

By Eric Fisher

The D.C. Council is unlikely to vote on its ballpark financing bill until after the Thanksgiving holiday because of scheduling conflicts among several council members.

A deal brokered this week between Mayor Anthony A. Williams and council chairman Linda W. Cropp calls for the stadium bill to reach the full council for a vote by Nov. 23. In exchange, a formal process will be established to seek potential sources of private funding for the ballpark.

But some key votes in favor of the stadium project, most notably at-large Democrat Harold Brazil and Ward 7 Democrat Kevin Chavous, will be unable to attend a vote Nov. 23 or a potential substitute date Nov. 19. The most likely date for a vote is now Nov. 30, with Cropp to set one next week.

The delays do not present any real threat to the city's requirement to provide Major League Baseball with ratified financing for a ballpark near the Anacostia River waterfront in Southeast by Dec. 31. But they do extend the vigorous, citywide debate on the delivery of District services sparked by the ballpark bill.

And with passage of a council bill requiring two approvals 13 days apart, the delays also mean the second vote will not take place by Dec. 7, as originally intended.

"It's hard to get everybody together on a date that has not been previously identified, so we may not end up voting [for the first time] on this bill until November 29 or November 30," said Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat.

*(Further down)*

Regardless of how the final financing structure turns out, Evans said his strident support of the ballpark package has killed his chances to win the 2006 District mayoral election.

"This has done me enormous political damage, and I'm aware of that," Evans said. "But I think it's very important to take a stand on things. It's the only way things get done. But in 20 years, when all the dust has settled, baseball will still be here, and people will be happy."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Private Financing Of D.C. Ballpark Just a Tax Shelter

By Steven Pearlstein
Friday, November 12, 2004; Page E01

Wouldn't it be delicious if Washington, D.C. -- the mecca of tax lobbying -- were to mark the renaissance of Major League Baseball here by building a new stadium that was nothing more than a tax scam.

But that is exactly what would happen if the District were to take up the "private" financing proposal for the $500 million stadium project that so intrigued D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp. About the only good thing you can say for it is that it would finally resolve the question of what to call the new team. What else could you call them but the Washington Loopholes?

In truth, there is nothing private about the financing scheme that has been proposed here and in other cities.
The District would still have to impose some sort of gross receipts tax to cover the $150 million it will take to fix up RFK Stadium as a temporary home for the new team, assemble the land for the new stadium and pay for the infrastructure improvements around it.

And the District would still be expected to impose a special sales tax on tickets, parking and everything sold at the new stadium. However, under the "private" financing scheme, this money would go to the partnership to cover interest payments on the money borrowed to build the stadium at rates 3 percentage points above what the city would pay.

But here's the really beautiful part of this deal: The rent the partnership would pay the city for the land on which the stadium sits would be recorded on its books as an expense even though no cash would change hands. Instead, payments could be deferred for 25 years until the expiration of the lease, at which point the partnership would either have to cough up the rent in its entirety, with interest, or turn the stadium over to the city for "free," which is what certainly would happen.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Ballclub suffers first loss

By Thom Loverro

We have been begging for a baseball team in Washington for 33 years now, so the preposterous fashion in which it appears to be arriving shouldn't be a surprise.

Decisions about what officea equipment to bring from Montreal seemed to have a higher priority than who will put together the roster fans will pay to see at RFK Stadium in April.

Each day that passes, players are filing for free agency, and agents are talking to general managers.

Soon there will be deals to be made and — even as handicapped as this franchise is — bargains to be had once the big spenders blow their budgets on superstars like Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran.

But the Washington club didn't get a general manager until Tuesday, when it was announced former Cincinnati Reds GM Jim Bowden agreed to take the job. So the Washington franchise, in its infancy, is taking on an identity: Home of Dysfunctional General Managers. Dan Duquette and Bowden — these were the candidates for the Washington job? Heck, why not Syd Thrift?

One high-ranking baseball official declared vice president of on-field operations for MLB Bob Watson "already on the payroll" as Washington's GM, but he turned down the job last week.

Bud Selig and his sidekick, Bob DuPuy, scrambled to find someone willing to run this zombified franchise temporarily — with no promise of security once baseball turns it over to its new owners, whoever they may be.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Small market reality arrives

By Thom Loverro
The Washington Times
November 12, 2004

Washington is the nation's eighth largest media market, but for baseball's purposes in 2005, it is Kansas City, Milwaukee or even Montreal.

As long as Major League Baseball owns the relocated Expos, the team will be run like a small-market franchise.

Contrary to published reports, club president Tony Tavares said the team has not received any payroll figure from baseball for the next season. Speculation based on the anticipated Washington revenues suggests it will be higher than the $41 million spent last season in Montreal.

Nevertheless, it will still be at the bottom of the sport's economic food chain, a familiar place for general manager Jim Bowden, who spent 101/2 years as the Cincinnati Reds' GM. He knows about small-market strategies, and they don't include bringing in a big bopper outfielder or top-line starter.

Bowden, who has the reputation as an aggressive trader, is unlikely to emerge from the weeklong general managers meetings without making any deals. Yet that doesn't mean he won't be active this winter.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website

D.C. Baseball's White Elephant Is Running Wild

By Sally Jenkins
Friday, November 12, 2004; Page D01

The new baseball stadium is already a drain on Washington, D.C., and ground hasn't been broken yet. The project grows more illogical by the day. You really think a publicly funded baseball stadium is going to be good for the municipality, after watching the quarreling of the last week? Allow me to voice a small but nagging suspicion: The mayor and the city council could be devoting such energy, attention and argument to better things than a ballpark.

Perhaps as early as this week, Mayor Anthony A. Williams and his colleagues on the city council will probably pass a publicly funded stadium deal, over the objections of two thirds of city residents and contrary to all good advice. Why?

"Politicians have an edifice complex," says David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute. "They like to be seen building big things."

But this thing is a big cheat. Williams's statements on the costs and benefits are alternately wrong or bogus, and in either case, you have every right to feel cheated that your local politicians don't show this kind of devotion and creativity to bigger problems. You also have a right to feel that your representatives have been robbed of common sense. For example: This week, city council chairman Linda W. Cropp was accused of Reneging and Political Maneuvering because she tried to save the city oh, I don't know, maybe a hundred million dollars.

That's the kind of moral confusion and rot this stadium deal has plunged the city into.

It's actually very clear: Sixty-nine percent of residents don't want to use public funds to pay for a stadium. They don't want to give Major League Baseball a half-billion-dollar subsidy out of taxpayers' pockets. Not a single independent economic study bears out the mayor's claim that a public-funded stadium will be a boon to the local economy. Yet the mayor has willfully ignored these facts -- until he was forced to pay attention by Cropp's sudden desertion and attempt to do a better deal. Personally, I don't call that "serving the people."

Cropp, whatever you think of her or suspect her motives to be, has done one good thing, something the mayor hasn't. She's listened to her constituents. She's heard the small- and medium-sized business owners and residents who will bear an unfair and disproportionate tax burden. Pepco and Verizon can easily stand the tax hits the stadium will cost, but people who run vegetable markets can't.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Some Firms Say Baseball Tax Looks Too High and Hard

By Neil Irwin and Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 11, 2004; Page E01

On Monday, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams stood in front of the press to make his pitch for a publicly financed baseball stadium, flanked by leaders of some of the city's largest companies -- Pepco, Verizon and Bank of America among them.

The image was clear: Businesses stand behind baseball in Washington, even though they will have to pay a new tax on revenue to help pay for it.

Some mid-size businesses say they can't
afford Mayor
Anthony Williams's plan to finance a new baseball stadium.
(Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)

But behind the scenes yesterday, a far more complicated mix of business views was apparent, as various groups launched last-ditch lobbying efforts to shift the brunt of a $26 million annual tax onto other companies. Confusion over which plan would emerge and the fast-evolving debate over the issue led some groups to move more aggressively to state their positions to make sure they weren't ignored.

Many mid-size businesses, especially those with low profit margins, complain that the mayor's plan puts too much of the load on them, and they are pushing to get more of it shifted to large companies. Major real estate developers, among the most stalwart supporters of baseball, are upset that the mayor's plan would treat each building they own as a separate enterprise, raising the total baseball tax burden the developers would face. They want that provision changed.

Meanwhile, business leaders who have embraced the baseball tax worry about the possible long-term impact of the confusion that resulted after D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp proposed a rival plan for a stadium at a different site, withdrew that proposal and then put forth a new idea on Tuesday for private financing. By yesterday, Cropp had backed away from the private financing proposal and said she was more amenable to the mayor's original plan.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Cropp agrees to compromise on ballpark

By Eric Fisher

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp and Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday agreed to a compromise that would keep on track his financing plan for a ballpark in Southeast.

Mrs. Cropp said she will bring the Williams proposal up for a full council vote by Nov. 23.

In return, the mayor and his allies on the council agreed to amend the Williams bill to provide for a six-month search for private financing for the ballpark.

The agreement ended five days of rancor over competing proposals, disputes that prompted fears Major League Baseball (MLB) would void its deal with the District to relocate the Montreal Expos to the city.

Private financing would not necessarily violate the District's deal with MLB.The city must produce a ratified financing bill for the Southeast site by Dec. 31. However, the financing structure can be altered afterward so long as the changes do not affect the ballpark itself or the team's revenue sources.

Several city officials said the prospects of finding a viable private source of stadium funds are uncertain and perhaps unlikely.

Private investors could not borrow against stadium revenues dedicated in writing to the Washington team. Nor could they disrupt a planned community benefit fund created through the establishment of a tax-increment financing district around the Southeast ballpark.

City officials also are concerned about the ramifications of yielding control of stadium construction to private entities.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Cropp goes the weasel

By Tom Knott
The Washington Times

Linda W. Cropp has decided to be a woman of the people, if not the leading populist of the D.C. Council.

She also has some Elmer Gantry in her, only she is clutching the ballpark's fiscal impact report instead of a bible. She is preaching to the masses, talking of monies better spent elsewhere, making the case of the unfriendly confines on Half Street in Southeast Washington.

The at-large Democrat has a zillion ideas with the proposed ballpark, with each subject to change depending on which way the political wind is blowing.

One day Cropp is behind the mayor's ballpark site, the next day she trots out the previously dead RFK Stadium site and yesterday she found the necessary support to take a two-week powder after objecting to the publicly financed arrangement.

Washington, we have a problem.

Hers is the ever-shifting maneuvering that comes a Cropper.

Hold the printing of the season tickets, in other words.

We do not have a baseball team just yet. We have the rotating Cropp instead.

We have the concept of a team hanging in the balance and a mayor who would be pulling his hair out if he had any hair to pull out.

We have an "at-risk" baseball team and a politically depressed city slipping further into the abyss.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Cropp seen as playing politics

By S.A. Miller

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp's 11th-hour opposition to publicly financing a ballpark in Southeast is a well-timed political maneuver that is reinventing her as a populist at a time when voters are souring on incumbents, city activists and politicians say.

"Linda Cropp is one of the few people on the council who is reacting favorably to the political tremors that were unleashed on September 14," said longtime political insider Lawrence T. Guyot, referring to the Democratic primary in which three incumbents on the D.C. Council were swept out of office.

It was no coincidence that the ousted incumbents all supported Mayor Anthony A. Williams' plan to publicly finance the entire cost of a $435.2 million Major League Baseball stadium and their challengers all opposed the "sweetheart" deal, he said. For many residents, the ballpark deal has come to symbolize what they see as the city government's willingness to coddle businesses at the expense of ordinary residents.

"There are two ways to deal with a train coming at you," Mr. Guyot said. "One is to stand there and wait for it to hit you. The other is to get on. ... Linda got on the train. ... It is putting her in the right position, at the right time, on the right issue, for all the right reasons."

Mrs. Cropp, at-large Democrat, had supported Mr. Williams' stadium plan, but she began distancing herself from the mayor amid a groundswell of opposition to his financing scheme. Her move on Tuesday to delay a council vote on the plan and offer an alternative proposal to privately finance the project completed her realignment.

"She has made herself a very relevant player," said Betsy Werronen, chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee. "She has put herself in the middle of this to try and work it out. ... If she can save the city money, it would be terrific and she would be a big hero."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Cropp Backs Stadium Plan, With a Caveat

Council Leader Agrees to Support Williams's SE Proposal if Private Financing Is an Option
By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 11, 2004; Page B01

Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) says she
is "just looking for a better deal" for the city.
(Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp said yesterday that she would support Mayor Anthony A. Williams's plan to build a publicly financed baseball stadium along the Anacostia River in Southeast, as long as the contract stipulates the possibility of adding private funding in the future.

"We probably will do that," she said. "I have said from the start that I am in favor of baseball. I'm just looking for a better deal. It's premature to say whether anything will come up that is a better deal."

Cropp's statement came after she and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) met with Fred Cooke, an attorney for BW Realty Advisors LLC. That group has proposed using as much as $350 million in private funds to build the stadium, estimated to cost as much as $530 million.

Evans said Cooke was unable to answer many of the key questions about the company's plan. Cooke said in an interview that he needed more data from the city about the ballpark to supply those answers. Cooke will return Monday to provide additional information to the full council.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Rockies fire McMorris

By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer

Post file / Andy Cross
Jerry McMorris of the Colorado Rockies
in a 1999 photo.

Jerry McMorris, the Rockies' No. 1 boss during the team's first nine years who once was credited with saving the major-league franchise for the city of Denver, essentially has been fired by the club.

Having lost positions as president to Keli McGregor after the 2001 season and chief executive officer and chairman to Charlie Monfort after the 2002 season, McMorris has been removed as vice chairman.

Although McMorris retains his 12.4 percent overall financial stake in the ownership group and 40.4 percent share of the general partnership, his voting rights have been rescinded.

Read the entire article here on the Denver Post website.

Delay by council surprises some GMs

By Thom Loverro
The Washington Times
November 10, 2004

Several of the general managers meeting here were stunned the D.C. Council yesterday delayed a vote to approve the building of a ballpark on the Anacostia riverfront, as specified in Major League Baseball's decision to move the Montreal Expos to the nation's capital.

"They're going to lose that team," one official said privately.

Some baseball people say there is more riding on the city council vote than the return of the majors to Washington. The integrity of the industry and the legacy of commissioner Bud Selig also is at stake, they say.

"We're going to look worse than the Arena Football League if this doesn't get done," one club official said.

Jim Bowden, the Washington club's new general manager, has tried to separate baseball matters from the political infighting that is putting the franchise relocation at risk, but it is impossible to separate the two. As he returned from an outdoor luncheon overlooking Biscayne Bay, the first words out of Bowden's mouth were, "What happened with the vote this morning?"

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website

Stadium Backers In Line for Reward

Williams Agrees To Fund Projects
By Lori Montgomery and Yolanda Woodlee
The Washington Post
November 10, 2004

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has persuaded seven of the council's 13 members to line up in support of his baseball financing plan by slipping more than $70 million in enticements into the stadium legislation, including $40 million for commercial development in Southeast Washington, $2 million for a high school in Ward 5 and $10 million for unspecified projects in Wards 6 and 7.

The expenditures showed up in a 41-page draft that Williams's allies on the council planned to offer yesterday in place of the mayor's original bill. Several items were added at the request of council members who were early supporters of the ballpark proposal. Others were added just this week to secure the votes of members who had been considering voting no.

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), for instance, agreed Monday to vote for Williams's stadium package after the mayor promised to sign separate legislation dedicating $45 million to rebuilding the city's underfunded public library system.

Graham would have provided the seventh crucial vote for the baseball package yesterday. But as it turned out, Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) pulled the stadium legislation from the council's agenda, saying she wants two weeks to study a last-minute proposal to build a ballpark with private funds.

The substitute bill was never offered, but some council members obtained copies, as did The Washington Post. Several council members accused Williams (D) of buying votes.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website

Cropp Blocks Council Vote On Stadium

Chairman Says She Has Private Financing Plan
By David Nakamura and Lori Montgomery
The Washington Post
November 10, 2004

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp blocked approval of a bill to build a baseball stadium with public money yesterday, announcing that she has a plan that could provide up to $350 million in private funding.

Cropp's action came during two hours of closed-door debate by the council shortly before its legislative session and marked the second time in five days that she has stunned her colleagues with a new stadium proposal.

Seven of the 13 council members said that they were prepared to vote in favor of Mayor Anthony A. Williams's plan to construct the stadium along the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington. Cropp (D) abandoned an alternative proposal she made last week to build near Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. That proposal had failed to muster much council support.

But after telling colleagues that she would support the mayor's site, she tried and failed to get them to agree to delay the vote for two weeks. Cropp then exercised her power as chairman and removed the bill from consideration, placing it on the agenda for Nov. 23.

Cropp said that over the next two weeks, she will finalize details of a plan to provide private financing for the stadium, estimated to cost as much as $530 million.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

No Joy In Mudville OR DC!

The Associated Press
WMAL Radio

WASHINGTON (AP) - A time out is being called in the effort to bring baseball to Washington.

A vote on the more than 400 million dollar ballpark plan was scheduled for today. But DC Council Chair Linda Cropp suddenly yanked it from the agenda.

She hopes to bide time to consider her alternate plan, which would require more private financing. Cropp is now promising a vote in two weeks. Councilman Jack Evans -- a big baseball backer -- calls delaying the vote ``the wrong thing to do,'' though he acknowledges Cropp has the right to do so.

An official with the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission says private financing can't be a substitute for the current deal. But he says he's open to companies taking on more of the financial burden.

Read the entire article here on the WMAL Radio website.

Mayor Tony Williams Disappointed About Vote Delay

The Associated Press
WMAL Radio

WASHINGTON (AP) - Mayor Tony Williams calls the delay in a baseball vote a setback, but he vows to continue moving forward.

The mayor spoke to reporters after DC Council Chair Linda Cropp took a scheduled vote on the stadium plan off today's agenda.

Williams believes the real reason for the delay is because -- quote -- ``we have the votes.'' The mayor and members of the city's sports commission say they have at least one offer from a private financing company to help pay for the stadium, in exchange for development rights. But they call the deal inadequate, and say the existing deal is better for DC residents.

Read the entire article here on the WMAL website.

D.C. Council Takes Baseball Off the Table

The Associated Press
WTOP Radio
Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004 - 2:00 PM

WASHINGTON - Baseball has been taken off the agenda at the D.C. City Council meeting, according to Council Member Harold Brazil.

The council had been set to consider the mayor's plan, which would build a stadium on the waterfront, and a proposal by D.C. Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp to build a stadium at RFK stadium. Major League Baseball supports the waterfront site as the new home of the Expos.

As WTOP first reported, the decision to table all baseball talk came during a closed door session where Cropp presented a second plan to finance the stadium, Brazil says.

Read the entire article here on the WTOP Radio website.

Cropp Postpones Vote on Stadium Legislation

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 9, 2004; 11:36 AM

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp abruptly removed a bill to build a baseball stadium with public money along the Anacostia River in Southeast from the council's legislative agenda this morning, announcing that she has a new plan that could provide up to $350 million in private funding for the project.

Cropp's action, which shocked her colleagues, came after nearly two hours of closed-door debate by the 13-member body. Council members said that the chairman, who had opposed details of Mayor Anthony A. Williams's pact with Major League Baseball to build the stadium, asked them to table the legislation for two weeks.

When Cropp (D) could not secure a majority of votes to table the bill, she exercised her right to set the council's agenda and removed the item. She said she will place it on the council's agenda for two weeks from today.

In that time, Cropp said, she will be able to provide more details about her latest plan. In brief remarks to reporters at the Wilson Building this morning, Cropp said that her new proposal will use a creative means to finance the stadium, choosing a developer to privately fund much of the project. The city would provide about $150 million for infrastructure improvements and to pay for the 21 acres of land that will be needed.

Cropp told council members that a developer has already approached her with the idea.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Public Financing Opposed, Poll Finds

By Richard Morin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 9, 2004; Page A01

More than two-thirds of District residents oppose using public funds to build a baseball stadium in the city, and an even larger majority fears that average taxpayers would end up paying for the project under Mayor Anthony A. Williams's financing plan, according to a Washington Post survey of area residents.

Throughout the city, opposition to a publicly financed baseball stadium is both broad and deep. Sixty-nine percent of District residents said city funds should not be spent on a new baseball stadium, and half of those interviewed said they are strongly opposed to public financing.

Most residents of the District and nearby suburbs agree that a Major League Baseball team in Washington will benefit the city and the region. And many Baltimore Orioles fans said they expect that they will attend games in the District next year -- and proportionally fewer Orioles games.

But although the plan by Williams (D) calls for the stadium to be financed mostly through a tax on major D.C. businesses, three out of four city residents worry that District taxpayers eventually will foot the bill, siphoning city dollars from more urgent priorities.

"The money should be used for something else: schools, street repairs, neighborhood repairs, homelessness," said Barbra Douglas, 22, of Southeast Washington, who was recently laid off from her job as an aide in a foster care program. "Why should we spend this money on a stadium when the schools are going under? I have a 6-year-old who's getting beat up in elementary school. What are they doing for children like him?"

On Friday, D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) proposed her own stadium plan that also calls for public financing. Cropp recommended building the stadium at a different site and said her plan would cost about 20 percent less than the mayor's proposal. The Post's survey was conducted Wednesday through Sunday, and results of interviews done before and after Cropp's announcement did not differ significantly.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Mayor sure of ballpark support

By Eric Fisher and S.A. Miller

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday he is "very confident" that he has the seven necessary votes from the D.C. Council for his plan to build a ballpark near South Capitol Street Southeast.

Mr. Williams and numerous city sources said a frenetic, three-day lobbying campaign solidified enough political support to trump a rival plan for a ballpark at the grounds of RFK Stadium offered by council Chairman Linda W. Cropp.

The full council is set to vote on the measure today.

"I believe we have the votes," said Mr. Williams, who was flanked at a press conference by 19 local business leaders. "Neither one of us wants to kill baseball."

Major League Baseball (MLB) has threatened to walk out on its deal to relocate the team to the District if funding for the Southeast ballpark site is not obtained.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

D.C. first plays paying game

By Laura Vecsey
The Baltimore Sun
Originally published Nov 9, 2004

IN NEW YORK, baseball officials sit and wait. This is Washington's problem now. If D.C. can't deliver what it promised, then the Expos don't become the Nationals and they can go back to Montreal.

"Adieu?" to Canada.

How does "Bonjour" sound? "We struck a deal with the city council. They have until the end of the month to get it passed. We're supportive of that deal. We'll let it play out. We don't want to get into the middle of a political battle," Major League Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said yesterday.

In Baltimore, the owner of the Orioles is likely attending to business far more pressing, like Vioxx lawsuits, than figuring revenue guarantees for when the Expos move into the Orioles' "territory." With the D.C. stadium proposal cracking like a Maryland crab, what's the rush? If anyone out there can think of a stadium deal that got done in this country without a crisis and widespread panic, not to mention some righteous name-calling, please pass along the time and place.

These are the main ingredients of stadium deals: threats, doomsday deadlines, scorched earth scare tactics, political ploys.

So it is in D.C. A key vote for the proposed baseball stadium's location and financing is today - but not before Mayor Anthony A. Williams and council chairwoman Linda W. Cropp took to the airwaves and Internet yesterday. Each tried to drum up support for different proposals about where District taxpayers should dump hundreds of millions and just how many millions the District should spend on public welfare for the great game of baseball.

Read the entire article here on the Baltimore Sun website.

D.C. mayor urges council to pass stadium proposal

Williams lobbies for waterfront site; alternate plan might be put to vote, too
By Jeff Barker
Sun Staff
Originally published November 9, 2004

WASHINGTON - Mayor Anthony A. Williams' plan to finance a baseball stadium headed for a tantalizingly close vote in D.C. Council today, as the mayor warned opponents that baseball won't deliver a team if the city scraps or tinkers with the original stadium proposal.

Williams said yesterday that he had secured the required seven votes for passage, but council opponents, who have complained about the stadium's cost, characterized his majority on the 13-member body as shaky. Williams said in the afternoon that, "We're trying to tighten them up and reinforce them [the votes]."

Later, the mayor appealed to the public in a rare televised address to approve the bill for a publicly funded stadium on the Anacostia River waterfront.

"For the sake of new jobs, homes, businesses - and a new river - I'm urging the council to pass it," Williams said in a taped speech broadcast last night on radio and a District cable station. "History is written in moments. In the story of our city, tomorrow is one of them."

The city has waited 33 years for a new team. On Sept. 29, city leaders announced they had reached an agreement with Major League Baseball to move the Montreal Expos here by spring.

Among those joining Williams at a raucous downtown celebration that afternoon was council chairwoman Linda W. Cropp. "I was singing with the best of them: 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame,' " Cropp said yesterday in her own recorded speech, broadcast last night on WTOP-AM.

Now, Cropp has emerged as the mayor's chief adversary. On Friday, she introduced a plan to instead build the new stadium adjacent to RFK Stadium, the former home of Washington's last team, the Senators. Original estimates put the price of the Anacostia stadium at about $440 million, including financing costs, but an analysis by the District's chief financial officer increased the cost to about $530 million.

Read the entire article here on the Baltimore Sun website.

Mayor Says He Has the Votes on D.C. Baseball

By David Nakamura and Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 9, 2004; Page A01

Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday he believes he has lined up the seven crucial votes on the D.C. Council that he needs to pass his plan to build a baseball stadium on the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington.

Williams (D) spent the day pushing his message to council members, business leaders and the public in a furious race to consolidate support in time for a vote today by the council on the stadium legislation.

"I believe we have the votes," Williams said at a midday news conference, flanked by council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5) and nearly two dozen business leaders. "We're just trying to shore them up. We're close."

Under his pact with Major League Baseball, the city would build a stadium, which could cost $530 million, through a combination of a gross receipts tax on big businesses, a tax on concessions and an annual rent payment by the team. In exchange, baseball officials would relocate the Montreal Expos to Washington this spring.

The mayor focused largely on securing the votes of Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Sandy Allen (D-Ward 8). Staffers for the two said they were leaning toward supporting the mayor because Williams would fund libraries for Graham and a recreation center for Allen.

Graham said yesterday that the mayor has promised to create a $45 million investment fund for libraries that Graham had sought. Cropp has not offered a similar deal.

"We're close. We're still discussing the language," Graham said of a deal with Williams. "We're working hard to create something very real and tangible for the rebirth of our libraries."

The mayor promised activists that he would create a community investment fund that could reach $450 million and could be used for schools, libraries and recreation centers. A deal with Graham would focus the first $45 million from that fund on libraries.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Monday, November 08, 2004

New York Developer Aims to Buy Baseball's Expos

Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 8, 2004

New York developer Mark Broxmeyer, best known for erecting sprawling multifamily developments in Long Island, is trying to buy the Montreal Expos.

The team has been tentatively renamed the Nationals and could play in Washington, D.C., next season. Major League Baseball's 29 owners bought it in February 2002 for $120 million. And having reportedly lost millions on the purchase, the league is anxious to unload the Nationals by January.

"The last time I checked, the Yankees and the Mets weren't up for sale, so Washington, D.C., is about the closest thing you can get to a New York franchise," said Mr. Broxmeyer, a native New Yorker and chairman of the think tank the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

Mr. Broxmeyer has so far convinced Fox News's Bill O'Reilly's lawyer, Ben Morelli, and the chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Fred Zeidman, to join his investors. Steve Forbes has also said he "wants to participate," and Mayor Giuliani is "definitely interested," said Mr. Broxmeyer.

Within the next month, Mr. Broxmeyer expects Major League Baseball to publish an acceptable minimum bid for the Expos purchase, which rumors have put at $300 million. After the minimum has been set, the potential buyers have 30 days to examine the Expos' books before putting in their official bid.

Investor groups do not have to be finalized until the official bids are made. Mr. Broxmeyer is still hammering out his final list of investors and continues to meet with wealthy individuals in the hopes of raising more funds, including a meeting today in Washington with an unnamed vice presidential candidate who has expressed interest in investing in the team.

Read the entire article here on the New York Sun website.

Key Expos vote set for Tuesday

Associated Press Writer
November 8, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mayor Anthony A. Williams predicted Monday he has enough votes in the District of Columbia Council to approve financing for a ballpark for the Expos in the location agreed to in the team's contract to relocate to the capital.

The Council plans to vote Tuesday, and seven votes are needed for approval.

Council Chair Linda Cropp, saying the site south of the Capitol along the Anacostia River waterfront would be too costly, proposed an alternative plan Friday to construct a stadium next to RFK Stadium. The Expos' contract with Washington calls for financing to be enacted by Dec. 31 and does not allow a change in site without the team's approval.

Williams gathered 20 business leaders at a news conference to demonstrate support for his proposal for a $435 million stadium.

Read the entire article here on Yahoo! Sports.

Report: Selig OKs 'Los Angeles' Angels

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The city of Anaheim will resist any attempt by the Angels to change their name to the Los Angeles Angels.

The franchise began play as the Los Angeles Angels in 1961, became the California Angels when it moved to Anaheim in 1966 and has been the Anaheim Angels since 1997, after the team negotiated a 30-year lease with Anaheim.

"We're pretty fired up. We want the Angels to understand this is very important to us," Anaheim city manager Dave Morgan told The Associated Press on Monday. "They won the world championship as the Anaheim Angels two years ago and should remain the Anaheim Angels. The mayor and City Council of Anaheim are very clear and unambiguous that we will do whatever we need to do legally to enforce the lease we have with the Anaheim Angels."

The possibility of a name change was first reported in July. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times quoted an unidentified high-ranking baseball official as saying baseball commissioner Bud Selig has given permission to Angels owner Arte Moreno to rename the team.

Angels president Dennis Kuhl declined comment Monday.

Read the entire article here on

Mayor seeks vote without Cropp

By Eric Fisher

District Mayor Anthony A. Williams, pushing to save his proposal for a ballpark in Southeast near the Anacostia River waterfront, seeks a majority vote on the D.C. Council without the aid of powerful chairwoman Linda Cropp.

Long thought of as a key vote for the mayor's plan, Cropp sent shock waves through the city Friday with her last-minute plan to move the ballpark location to the grounds of RFK Stadium, a maneuver that would violate terms of the city's relocation agreement with Major League Baseball.

But rather than hinge hopes on a resurrection of Cropp's support for the mayor's plan, city sources said yesterday Williams is looking for the majority seven votes without the powerful Cropp. Sources close to the mayor said Williams believes he has six solid votes, with a full-throttle effort under way to secure the crucial seventh.

The full D.C. Council is scheduled to vote on the ballpark bill tomorrow. MLB is mandating legislative approval of financing for the Southeast site by Dec. 31.

"[The Southeast plan] has got to get through on Tuesday," a city source close to the mayor said. "There's still technically time to come back if it doesn't, but it's going to be real tough."

According to several city sources, the most likely road map for Williams to get to seven votes is with Democrats Jack Evans, Harold Brazil, Kevin Chavous, Vincent Orange, Sharon Ambrose, Jim Graham and Sandy Allen.

Graham widely is seen as a potentially critical swing vote. The Ward 1 councilman strenuously lobbied for a direct link from the gross-receipts tax on large District businesses that would fund much of the ballpark costs to city amenities such as libraries and recreation centers.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Cropp Stadium Plan Lacks Council Votes

Chairman Says Mayor Also Falls Short
By Serge F. Kovaleski and David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, November 8, 2004; Page B01

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp said yesterday that she appears short on votes to win approval of her alternative proposal to build a major league ballpark adjacent to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium when the council takes up the matter tomorrow.

But Cropp (D) said she believes that Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) does not have enough votes for his plan to construct a baseball stadium along the Anacostia River in an industrial area of Southeast Washington.

Both sides were angling yesterday to win broader council backing, and the mayor hopes to rally the public with a four- to six-minute televised address at 8 tonight on District cable, Channel 16.

Even if neither plan wins council approval tomorrow, Cropp said, it would not necessarily doom the District's deal to bring the Montreal Expos to the city. She suggested that a compromise bill could be crafted before the Dec. 31 deadline agreed to by the Williams administration and Major League Baseball to have a stadium package ratified by the 13-member council. She did not say how a compromise might resolve the disagreement.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.