Baseball Stuff

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.


  1. Actually, considering it was opening night and I was prepared for a couple months of working out the kinks, people management was great last night. 42,000 in and out pretty smoothly, with no traffic or pedestrian nightmares from what I could tell.

    Yep, the stadium deal was a fiasco, no question. But whateves, I've come to expect worse from our city council, so I'll just let it go and watch some baseball this summer.

  2. wow rusty, even for you, quite a misleading and hypocritical post.
    First of all, i can't believe you actually used the phrase "only $450 million." Either you're opposed to public financing or you're not. $450 million is not some magic number that makes public financing okay, regardless of the risks/revenue sources involved. it's matter of principle, but i guess you'd rather just take shots at DC than stand by yours.
    secondly, the "only $450 million" does not cover the costs of demolishing old yankee stadium or redeveloping the site, which the city of new york will cover.
    Finally, at least the nationals are actually paying rent to the city for their stadium, the yankees will not be paying rent for their stadium.

  3. I am not opposed to public financing of stadiums. I am opposed to unreasonable public financing.

    If Major League Baseball wanted to split the cost of the stadium with the city, I would have been all for it.

  4. Confused....in your previous posts you seeme to hate the new baseball staduim and all it stands for. Yet you seem to be defending it's honor against Mr. Crasnick?? Then, in closing, you insinuate it's a rip off again. Oooookay.

    You off your meds again? KIDDING, just busting your balls. :o)

  5. "Yet you seem to be defending it's honor against Mr. Crasnick??"

    There is no way my writing is so bad that it appears I am defending the stadium. Mr. Crasnick lazily said the stadium was a bargain. I am arguing the opposite. More risk and more taxpayer burden.

  6. Sorry, but the fact that DC residents are arguing about even a million of public funds being used to finance building a baseball stadium when public transportation is a mess, schools are falling apart, and the fact the lousy team already had a stadium is just A-S-I-N-I-N-E!

    My bet is that the Nationals move to Canada before they win a Pennant.

  7. It's too bad none of you actually know how the stadium was financed. If you did, there wouldn't be so much whining, but on second thought, the whining would probably just continue.

  8. Personally I don't think a dime of public money should go toward constructing a marble palace so that "fans" can watch men hit a ball with a stick.

    I also hate Christmas, children, and America.

  9. So Rusty,
    "More risk and more taxpayer burden."

    Which taxpayer are you referring to? And what risk?

  10. Pick, I am well aware that the tax burden was paid for by businesses in the District. But if you don't think that business taxes affect the population at large, I don't know what to tell you.

    And what risk? The risk that the stadium will fail. The risk that it won't revitalize the area. The risk that the team will leave in twenty years. This is a historically unsuccessful franchise in a city where baseball has failed twice. That makes it risky.

  11. Rusty,

    The original financing plan was modeled after the plan used for the MCI Center. That plan was so successful that the city paid off the bonds that built the MCI center in 7 years. So, currently the MCI Center is bought and paid for. Not to mention that it revitalized the entire neighborhood. I remember the whining that went on about that one too - boo hoo, boo hoo, the poor crack whores are being displaced!

    The Nats Park plan is grander in scale but is essentially the same thing. In this case, only businesses that have gross receipts over $3 Mil pay the tax (about $2500 per year - up to $30,000 per year for major businesses).

    So no, I don't think that such a small business tax on enormous corporations will have an impact on the population at large.

    Even the Nat Park hating Washington Post admits that it projects an $18 M yearly surplus from this plan and thats after the bond payment.This puts it on track to pay off the bonds early, just like MCI.

    So, the city gets a great entertainment hub, creates an entirely new downtown-like area, fills it with new residences and revitalizes an area that for decades was nothing but a cycle of hell, crime, death and poverty for it's residents - it sounds good to me and I don't even like baseball.

    And the Nationals aren't about to move anytime soon.

  12. "The original financing plan was modeled after the plan used for the MCI Center"

    The MCI Center was built with no public financing. Try again.

  13. @ Pick:

    When did $3 mill = "enormous corporations." That's small business son, very small and probably affects a very large portion of local DC businesses.

  14. Rusty,

    I am opposed to public financing for private sports organizations' places to play. I think Jack Kent Cooke did it right with Redskins' stadium: he built it, Maryland paid for the infrastructure, which seems about right as parts of it can be re-used later if the team moves.

    I don't know the circumstances under which the first baseball team left Washington, but the Senators of the 1960's were doing all right and had good support and were making a profit when Bobby Short bought the team in order to move it to Texas. (Are there still "shoot on sight" orders for him in DC?)

    Your point that NYC is spending in total about the same amount of money with less risk than Washington is correct. Whether the cities should, of course, is up to their taxpayers.

  15. No one considers the positive effects that the stadium will have on the community? Look at the Verizon Center as an example. I don't know, the new stadium just seems like an easy target when thinking in the short term. Who would have ever expected a hockey team to last as long as it has here? That said, I suppose you are entitled to your opinions and I can not fault you for that.