Sunday, September 19, 2004

Numbers Uncertain For Va. Stadium

Loudoun Backers Promise Benefits
By Michael Laris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 20, 2004; Page B01

Loudoun County officials are willing to hand over hundreds of millions of dollars to build a baseball stadium and subsidize team owners if Major League Baseball moves the Montreal Expos to a site beside Dulles International Airport, backers of Virginia's bid said.

Revenue from a proposed Loudoun tax on game tickets and an array of county tax breaks are central to Virginia's financing plan. But they have been discussed little in public, and officials said they cannot put a dollar amount on the benefits Loudoun would receive in return.

With league officials' decision on where to put the Expos expected soon, the upsides baseball would bring to Loudoun -- and the price it would exact from the county -- are getting new scrutiny from boosters and critics.

Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac), vice chairman of Loudoun's Board of Supervisors, said the ballpark would be an engine -- "quite frankly, a Ferrari," he said -- for the county's economy. It would create jobs, attract businesses and spur residential construction near the stadium, all of which would pump up county finances, he said.

But Supervisor James Burton (I-Blue Ridge) predicted that the economic development benefits of hosting a major league team would prove insignificant, and he said siphoning off tax proceeds collected by the county to fund the ballpark's construction would undermine the stadium's value to Loudoun taxpayers.

The struggle over Virginia's stadium financing plan, and Loudoun's role in it, is about more than baseball. At issue is just what role governments should play in subsidizing the private keepers of the nation's pastime.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.