Dulles Expos?

AP/AJC — Virginia Touts Site As New Home for Expos

Northern Virginia baseball backers announced plans Monday for a $442 million, 42,500-seat ballpark for the Montreal Expos near Dulles International Airport, a proposal they hope will persuade owners to relocate the team to their community.

Northern Virginia and downtown Washington, D.C., appear to be the leading candidates to get the Expos, who were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season. Other bidders include Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; Norfolk; Portland, Ore.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Baseball officials hope to make a decision by mid-July, and financing for a ballpark has been a major concern.

The only government action required for the Northern Virginia plan would be site plan approval from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. A majority of the board attended a rally Monday to express support.

“We have the public will to get it done,” Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority chairman Keith Frederick said. “We have a financing plan that is ready to go. We’ve got a great site. We are ready.”

The plan calls for the ballpark to be part of a town square-style development that would include residential, retail and commercial space.

The developer proposing the plan–a consortium of builders Beazer, Centex and Van Metre companies–is willing to contribute $82 million in infrastructure costs, reducing the ballpark cost from $442 million to $360 million.

Supporters say the Dulles site’s distance from Washington is a plus because a team there would be less likely to damage the Baltimore Orioles, who say a D.C.-area team will hurt that franchise.

Much of the financing for the stadium already is in place under a 1997 Virginia law that permits the state to pay two-thirds of the cost of a new stadium, using taxes generated by the ballpark to pay back the bonds.

While it would be interesting to have a Major League Baseball team (well, sort of–these are the Expos) fifteen minutes down the road, I’m not sure it would be worth it. For one thing, taxpayer financing of sports stadia is idiotic and counterproductive. For another, the last thing we need is more traffic on Route 28 in the evenings. Plus, I really don’t want an NL East team in my hometown, since I’ve long been a fan of the division rival Atlanta Braves.

Logistically, however, Dulles makes much more sense than DC. The District’s infrastructure is simply not up to hosting a MLB franchise anymore. Traffic is already a zoo in the evenings; inviting 75,000 fans to stream in during the rush hour would be madness.

FILED UNDER: Sports
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Think on thje bright side – you could go to Virginia Expos (or whatever they call themselves) vs. Braves games now!

  2. McGehee says:

    Don’t worry, James, I won’t hold your Braves allegiance against you.

  3. jen says:

    I agree about the traffic, but as a longtime resident of the area I’m all for a baseball team in NoVa. Metro will have to expand the rail to Dulles with a team out there, which will be a good thing for commuters in Loudoun County. And we’ll be saved a 2 hour drive to Baltimore to see crappy baseball now that it will be in our backyard.

  4. BigFire says:

    I know the name is a bit of a curse, but why not rename this as another incarnation of DC Senators?

  5. DC loser says:

    If I wanted to see crappy baseball I have plenty of minor league teams to choose from here, and I won’t have to fork over my monthly salary to take my family out to a game.

  6. Boyd says:

    James, it’s my understanding that the state taxes which will be used to finance the stadium are already in place (Boyd’s Philosophy #4: “If something’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”). No new taxes, either state or local, will be implemented to support the construction of the stadium.

    I’m more concerned about the traffic impact, but the ongoing Rt. 28 construction plus some other infrastructure improvements should help limit the impact. There’s the potential that the planned improvements may end up making the stadium a net gain for our traffic situation in this neck of the woods. I still won’t want to go anyplace south of the toll road on game day.

    DC loser:

    The minor league baseball I’ve seen in this area is far from crappy. Even if the Expos move to Loudoun County, I think I’ll still prefer to go watch the Frederick Keys instead, no matter how good the local major league team becomes.

  7. DC Loser says:

    I’m afraid the road network there just won’t support the traffic. If you drive Rt 28 either direction from the airport during rush hour you know it’s already bad. I know going south towards Centreville could take a good 45 minutes or an hour when it’s really backed up. Problem with this site is that there’s no public transportation, at least not anytime soon. I’ll probably be long dead before the Dulles corridor project is done. And a baseball stadium means that there’s gonna be traffic almost every day when the team’s in town, not just the weekends. Maybe they can let the stadium traffic use the airport access road and build an exit to and from the median lanes on the toll road.

  8. Joel says:

    Don’t the Expos need more than a new stadium before they can snarl traffic across N. Va.? What are they going to rename themselves? The Dulles Dulls? The Dulles Campaigns? The Dulles Committee Reports?

  9. McGehee says:

    The Dulles C-SPAN? The Dulles Clinton’s Memoir? The Dulles Watching Paint Dry?

  10. Thomas says:

    75,000 fans? Wow, that would be on popular team. MLB attendance averages around 28,000. D.C. can handle that, right?