January 12, 2006
D.C. Council chairwoman Linda Cropp, who has been playing a back seat role in recent months, has put forward a stadium finance compromise offer that she says would gain majority support. It involves adhering to the original total cost cap of $535 million (plus $54 million in bond financing fees), stipulating that MLB sell the Nationals franchise to a local investor, and allotting a certain number of tickets to disadvantaged youth. Council members Vincent Gray and Kwame Brown would consider supporting the deal if those terms are included. The District is also trying to get the Federal government pay for upgrading the Navy Yard Metro station. See Washington Post. Perhaps that could be arranged in exchange for giving naming rights to Congress, as I have urged in the past.
All in all, it sounds like a pretty reasonable deal to me, as long as the council members stop their dickering and actually deliver a final financing package. MLB should not expect much if anything more. Governments by their very nature are not oriented toward the bottom line, and the only way to put a brake on cost overruns is for self-interested private interests to assume the risk. It's the American Way.
UPDATE: Neil deMause at fieldofschemes.com thinks that the stadium deal may be dead, and that MLB may start talking about contracting the Nationals and Marlins. Whoa! He cites a Washington Times report that Council member Jack Evans is very pessimistic about persuading enough of his colleagues to pass the necessary financing bill. Well, Jack's been known to be moody in the past, but you know how hard-core fans can be...
Just as this matter reaches a delicate climax, yet another drug incident has undermined Washington's reputation. D.C. Council member Marion Barry tested positive for cocaine after tax evasion charges were filed against him two months ago. He is in bad health condition anyway, and it may be hard for him to attend all the council meetings this year. See Washington Post. It's quite a shame.
I avoid trafficking in rumors, but this one is just too good. Sammy Sosa, who performed miserably last season with the Baltimore Orioles, in spite of being paid $18 million, is discussing a possible contract with the Washington Nationals. See Washington Post. Apparently no other team wants him, and the Nats desperately need a slugger, so it may be worth a shot. Oops! Freudian slip...
David Pinto is among those who is irate over the elevation of Bruce Sutter rather than Goose Gossage to the Hall of Fame. See baseballmusings.com. Bruce Orser, intrepid stadium researcher, opines that there should be special sections in the Hall of Fame for specialized players such as closers, designated hitters, great fielders whose bats weren't that great, and those who had shortened careers.