What a fairy tale opening to Nationals Park yesterday. The stadium was introduced to the American public on national television last night and star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman put the dot on the exclamation point with his line drive walk-off home run to the left field power alley. What a moment.
But let's not get too carried away. The attention being lavished upon Washington is embarrassing. For example, you have this lazy turd of a sentence from Jerry Crasnick on ESPN.com: "Best of all, the shindigs cost a mere $611 million -- or roughly half the price of the new Yankee Stadium."
This is where we are now? A mere $611 million? That's the number being bandied about by baseball and it's not true. It's a fabrication. The stadium financing plan had a $611 million cap, but once the fine print came into play, the stadium actually cost $674 million. But what's a $63 million difference between friends?
Furthermore, the comparison to New York is, for the lack of a better word, stupid. If someone is telling you that the stadium was a good deal and uses the new stadiums in the Bronx and Queens as an example, please ignore that person. That person is a moron who is not worthy of your time.
Baseball has proven itself to be a successful commodity in New York City. Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium are huge. They both sell out on a regular basis. On the other hand is Washington, DC. A city with such a grand baseball tradition that two different franchises have left the city for the greener pastures of Minneapolis, MN and Arlington, TX. So even if the investment is higher in New York, the risk is much lower.
But the investment isn't higher. Sure the New Yankee Stadium is going to cost over one billion dollars and be the most expensive stadium in American history. But Crasnick is doing a great disservice to his readers by pretending the final expense is all that matters. Who pays for the stadium is just as, if not more, important than how much it costs. The taxpayers of New York City are paying only $450 million for New Yankee Stadium. Citi Field, the new park for the New York Mets, is going to cost New York's taxpayers $164 million. So New York taxpayers get two new stadiums at a much lower risk in a city with a much larger budget to work from for $614 million.
Yeah, Jerry Crasnick, we got one Hell of a deal.
One thing that ESPN kept mentioning in their broadcast last night was how quickly the stadium was completed. It only took 22 months. That's pretty fantastic and exceeded my wildest expectations. Sure that means the area surrounding the stadium isn't even close to being ready for the spotlight, but hurray for the city for managing to not default in the sweetheart deal they gave to Major League Baseball.
But if the city isn't ready, the city isn't ready. On Saturday night I was traveling from a BBQ in Bethesda to The Black Cat for The Raveonettes concert. That meant transferring to the Green Line.
When our Green Line train came, we noticed a ton of people in Nats gear. I remembered that Nationals Park was hosting an exhibition game that night. We got on the train and squeezed ourselves in with the hometown faithful.
One stop later the conductor asked everyone to leave the train. It was out of service. About 200 people waited on the platform at the Convention Center stop for 20 minutes and watched four empty trains go by. One person loudly remarked, "Now I remember why I love Washington baseball so much." Everyone laughed.
But a $674 million publicly funded stadium? The joke's on us.