Wednesday, August 11, 2004

[VA] Speaker: Legislature might balk at baseball stadium finance plan

By MATTHEW BARAKAT,
Associated Press

McLEAN — A plan to pay for a Major League Baseball stadium near Dulles Airport using bonds backed by the "moral obligation" of Virginia could face stiff resistance in the General Assembly, said House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford.

Backers of a northern Virginia ballpark are competing with Washington, D.C., and other cities to be the new home for the Montreal Expos. The Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority, a state agency leading the charge for a new ballpark, has said a major advantage of their plan is that the financing is already in place and no new legislation is needed.

But the plan to use "moral obligation" bonds will require approval of the state legislature. And Howell, who opposes taxpayer-financed stadiums, said that issuing such bonds for a ballpark means less money will be available for important local projects like water quality improvements.

"The stadium project needs to stand on its own," Howell said in a telephone interview. "When you're talking about state bonds, I think that could be a cause for concern."

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