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.