D.C. Council Approves Deal to Finance Stadium
The D.C. Council gave its formal blessing to a deal to bring the Washington Nationals to the city today, ending two months of acrimonious debate by approving financing to build a baseball stadium along the Anacostia waterfront. By a vote of 7 to 6, the council adopted a stadium package that contains several amendments to the deal Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) struck with Major League Baseball in September to move the former Montreal Expos to Washington. The amendments were offered by Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), who feared that potential cost overruns would make the mayor’s financing package too risky for the city.
Under the final deal, the city will continue to search for private money to cover at least 50 percent of the cost of the ballpark. The District and Major League Baseball will share the cost of insurance against cost overruns. And the city will be liable for $5.3 million for one season of compensatory damages — compared to $19 million or more in the original deal — if the stadium does not open by March 2008. “We are very pleased that the legislation is passed,” said Baseball President Robert A. DuPuy, who was instrumental in working out the deal in which Cropp agreed to support the legislation in return for some commitment from Williams to pursue public financing. He added that Major League Baseball will have an official statement later this afternoon.
Nationals President Tony Tavares said the team would be almost fully operational beginning tomorrow morning. Season tickets will go back on sale, and the team will begin contacting the 563 fans who asked to have their deposits returned to see if they’re still interested. The team’s only merchandise store, a heated trailer in a parking lot outside RFK Stadium, will open tomorrow morning.
Interesting. Ultimately, all the deal did was change Cropp’s vote. It does, however, look like the Expos’ move to D.C. is official. Now, all the team needs to do is find an actual owner.