Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Sunday, October 10, 2004

No Stadium, No Team

The stadium financing plan has been submitted to the DC City Council, and the bitching has begun in earnest. Councilman David Catania, much concerned about porn-availability for his constituents, thinks the Mayor has it on lock.
Catania is convinced that Mayor Anthony Williams will find the support he needs to secure the deal.

"I think [Williams] would be perfectly happy to make these decisions on his own," Catania says, adding that the mayor and Major League Baseball "will get the seven votes they need. I see at least seven ironclad votes."
That's not going to stop people from opposing the financing plan, obviously. I'm not concerned with making a definitive defense of the Evans Doctrine, but stadium opponents are making one argument in particular that just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
Adrian Fenty thinks the District should make its new team play in RFK indefinitely. Adrian Fenty doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.
"Where else are they going to go? They've already left Montreal. And no one else has a stadium ready."
Actually, they haven't left Montreal. The offices are still there, and there's nothing to stop them staying up there if their DC deal falls through. Montreal and San Juan have stadia ready, which Fenty would know if he had paid attention to this issue before trying to get himself some air time.

The argument seems to be that DC didn't have to give MLB nearly as much as they did; the Northern Virginia bid was falling apart, and there were no other options. An anti-stadium organization's web site features a "fact sheet" with this info:
DC's strengths should allow it to get a team without heavily subsidizing a stadium: DC is one of the largest and wealthiest metro areas in the nation, certainly the largest area that currently has no team.
Note the use of the subjunctive here: "should." These people think that DC's strength as a market should be able to get us a team all by itself. I'm surprised anyone can think that given what's happened in the last 33 years.
Anybody who's been following relocation for these many years knows how wrong this argument is. MLB kept the Expos in Montreal in 2002, against all expectations and commons sense. They did the same in 2003. They did it again in 2004. Now, all of a sudden, we're supposed to think that DC is the only place the Expos could have gone for the 2005 season? Bud Selig held out until he got the stadium deal he wanted. If that deal winds up not materializing, DC doesn't get the Expos. They'll go back to Montreal and be contracted in 2006 or shipped off to a more welcoming locale. Jack Evans gets mocked for accusing stadium opponents of "trying to kill baseball," but that is exactly what they're doing. No stadium, no team.

You can argue to your heart's content about the economic and demographic wisdom of a publicly-funded stadium in DC. However, the idea that MLB is going to put the Expos here no matter where we want them to play isn't going to fly.

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