Tuesday, November 09, 2004

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.