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Growing Stadium Price Tag Causing Trouble
Nov 21, 2005 8:58 AM
Happy Monday morning! In "D.C. Ballpark's Rising Price Tag Compels Cuts," the Post details growing problems with the city's attempts to stay under the mandated $535 million price tag for building the new Nationals baseball stadium: "City officials had included money to repave roads and expand a Metro station near the stadium in the $535 million budget approved by the D.C. Council last year. Those funds now will go instead toward labor and building materials and to cover the cost of land for the stadium, which also is more expensive than anticipated. [...] The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which is overseeing the construction, determined that the cost of the distinctive ballpark designed by its architects has risen from $244 million to $337 million. That set off a scramble by top city officials who have since reduced the cost to $300 million but still are seeking money to complete the project."
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WashTimes Blasts MLB
Nov 21, 2005 8:43 AM
A Sunday editorial in the Washington Times ("More Baseball Blunders") gives it to Major League Baseball for ballking at the city's proposal that MLB pay the $6 million insurance that Wall Street is requiring for the new baseball stadium in the event of a player strike or terrorist attack: "The fact that MLB can balk at even this tiny a committment with any credibility is another indication of the sorry depths of these negotiations. No sweetheart deal is good enough."
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Stadium Design Unveiled to City Officials
Nov 18, 2005 12:02 AM

After days of no-progress-on-the-lease stories, today we get to shift gears, with word that the design of the new ballpark is being shown to DC officials, and that the reaction is positive. From the Post ("Stadium's Modern Design is Clear Winner on Council"): "A much-anticipated design for a new home for the Washington Nationals features glass, stone and steel as the primary materials and departs sharply from the popular red-brick throwback ballparks. The design will not be released for several weeks and still could be modified, but Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and key city officials have given the nod to the modern look." Mr. Bowtie, Linda Cropp, and Sharon Ambrose gave the design high marks, but apparently Jack Evans is still working hard to convince everyone that a Camden Yards-like red brick stadium is what DC needs (and that it would be cheaper). More on the design, from the Post: it "features an exterior wall largely made of glass and broken up by limestone portals, according to city sources who have seen the drawings. Aspects of the design create a translucent quality, offering fans inside views of the surrounding neighborhood and teasing those outside with glimpses of game activities. [...] Two cantilevered ramps leading to the upper decks contain viewing platforms from which fans can pause to take in sweeping scenes of the city -- the federal monuments to the north and the Anacostia River to the south."

More posts: Nationals Park

Special Community Baseball Stadium Update Meeting
Nov 17, 2005 11:39 AM
(UPDATED to fix address for Nov. 28 meeting) ANC 6D and the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly are holding a Baseball Stadium Update meeting on Monday, Nov. 28 at 7 pm at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, 222 M Street SW. They are working to get city officials, Sports Commission officials, and others to attend to discuss "traffic, construction, zoning and other important issues." This was announced at the ANC 6D meeting on Nov. 14. Also at that meeting, the ANC voted to support the Florida Rock project; as for Capper / Carrollsburg, while the ANC voted to support the alley closings/street openings portion of the zoning application, they are for now opposed to the second-stage PUD. ANC Commissioner Williams is trying to organize a special meeting to hear more from the community so that another vote can be taken by the commission before the zoning deadline (former residents are complaining they are having problems with the developers about their potential return to the development).
More posts: ANC News, Capper, Florida Rock, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues, zoning

Stadium Financing. Again.
Nov 17, 2005 10:36 AM

My patience is wearing thin having to track all these financing stories! "Think Tank Questions Stadium Financing Plan" in Thursday's District Extra in the Post highlights a study by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute which says "A private financing plan being used by the District to help pay for a new baseball stadium project has the potential to cost city taxpayers nearly $60 million in lost revenue." The specifics and numbers all make my head hurt, so your homework assignment tonight is to read both links yourself and come to your own conclusions :-).

More posts: Nationals Park

Another Day, Another Stadium Lease Story
Nov 16, 2005 8:34 AM
Mayor Williams has gotten personally involved in the negotiations between the city and Major League Baseball over the lease for the new baseball stadium, according to Wednesday's Post ("Williams Joins Talks With Baseball Officials"). In other news, the City Council gave final approval to the technical amendments correcting the wording of the stadium financing package.
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Lease Latest
Nov 15, 2005 12:46 PM

District officials are prepared to ask Major League Baseball for a $24 million letter of credit and a $20 million payment for parking costs when high-stakes negotiations over the terms of a new stadium lease resume today, says the Post ("DC to Seek More Money from Baseball Officials"). Read the article for the details, but it does appear that the city is trying a slightly different tack from the request last week for $6 million outright to cover "catastrophe" insurance. Will it work? We shall see....

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Jack Evans to MLB: Drop Dead
Nov 11, 2005 10:58 PM

DC council member Jack Evans, one of the biggest champions of bringing baseball to DC, is angry over the continuing stalemate over the stadium, and has launched a broadside at Major League Baseball, according to NBC4, who quotes Evans as saying that baseball must sign an important new stadium lease or just "move the team somewhere else." Quoting the article: "To sell bonds to build the new stadium along the Anacostia waterfront, Wall Street requires someone to guarantee that the $6 million annual rent will be paid despite any disaster or work stoppage. [...] Baseball is insisting the city bear the cost through expensive insurance. Evans said the city won't commit more money and baseball can move the Washington Nationals again." The money quote from Jack: "This is non-negotiable, so you either agree to this or you go somewhere else, because we are wasting our time. This is non-negotiable, and that's where we are right now," he said. "We are building a $535 million stadium for this group. That's enough." UPDATE: The Post's article ("Baseball Balking Over Stadium Rent") adds background and detail, as does the Washington Times.

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Community Ballpark Meeting Tidbits
Nov 11, 2005 10:38 AM
I attended the Community Ballpark Meeting on Nov. 2; it was hosted by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, which led to grumbling from the audience that the many DC government agencies who also have a hand in the stadium and surrounding development weren't in attendance. The one real piece of news (to me, anyway) was that the orientation of the ballpark has been decided on, and it's north-northeast, as you can see in the schematic contained in the handout. There are supposed to be public meetings in December to discuss the architecture, which I guess means that the design of the stadium will be unveiled at some point before then (hee hee). They are planning for zoning hearings in January, and now list April 2006 as the groundbreaking date. UPDATE: I've now scanned the 17-page agenda/handout (PDF), which has a lot of bullet points addressing economic opportunities, neighborhood "protection" (i.e., noise, lighting), transportation systems (traffic, parking, Metro), and community activities being undertaken (none of which at the moment are actually in the stadium neighborhood, which brought about much audience angst). UPDATE II (11/11): The Nov. 10 Voice of the Hill has (on page 3) a story on the meeting, detailing the somewhat fractious question and answer session.
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ANC 6D November Meeting Agenda
Nov 10, 2005 3:58 PM
ANC 6D has posted the agenda for its November meeting, at 7 pm on Monday Nov. 14., at 65 I Street SW. Agenda items include votes on Capper/Carrollsburg and Florida Rock PUDs, plus an update by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission on baseball stadium zoning and construction issues.

Did We Say Give? We Meant Buy
Nov 10, 2005 3:49 PM

Thursday's Post ("Bill Would Sell Land Promised to DC") picks up on what NBC4 published last week, that a bill in Congress would have the effect of forcing DC to buy certain federally owned property rather than have it transferred to the city's ownership for free. The gist is thus: "Pombo's plan has also outraged D.C. politicians because it would undermine legislation sponsored by Davis and endorsed by President Bush that would transfer land for free to the city to compensate for Congress's ban on a commuter tax and for the resulting increase in the city's fiscal burden. The areas affected by the bill include 100-acre Poplar Point, where the District is planning a 70-acre waterfront park surrounded by offices, shops, hundreds of apartments and possibly a professional soccer stadium; 15 acres of parking lots and fields just north of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, where the Washington Nationals baseball team currently plays; and parcels near the Eastern Market Metro station on Capitol Hill, Waterside Mall in Southwest and the site of a new stadium for the Nationals just off South Capitol Street." But note that the only land in the stadium footprint that is currently federally owned is little tiny Reservation 124, the triangle of land between 1st, P, and Potomac. Rep. Davis is quoted: "At the end of the day, this stuff is not going to become law." UPDATE: The entire budget bill was pulled late today.

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No Vote on New Nats Owner Next Week
Nov 9, 2005 2:31 PM

Bud says that there won't be a new Nationals owner by the time the owners meet next week in Milwaukee. He's still interviewing prospective ownerships groups. (Oh, and there's no lease agreement yet, either.)

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Final Text of Ballpark Amendment to Capitol Gateway Overlay
Nov 9, 2005 12:46 PM

For those of you who just can't get enough of zoning regulations, here's the final rulemaking and zoning order published in the Nov. 4 DC Register that amended the Capitol Gateway Overlay District regulations to include specifications for the ballpark. (Still waiting for Chapter 16/Capitol Gateway to reappear in the online DC Municipal Regulations!) Note that the design of the ballpark itself will still have to go through zoning hearings; nothing's appeared on the Zoning Commission schedule yet, but there's been hints of a January 2006 hearing date--I imagine that any delay past January on the zoning process would possibly start to impact the start of construction. Tick, tick, tick...!

More posts: Nationals Park, zoning

Stadium Properties Seized by Eminent Domain
Nov 9, 2005 10:07 AM
On Nov. 1 the city recorded in its real property database the change in ownership of those baseball stadium properties seized by the city via eminent domain. Out of the 23 landowners, 16 had their property taken--presumably the other seven have reached a sale agreement with the city, although those sales have yet to be recorded. You can see which were seized on my Stadium Offers page; those 16 owners will now go through the courts to have the fair price determined for their land (presuming they fail to prove that the seizure was illegal, which most observers seem to think is likely given the Supreme Court's Kelo decision).
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No Lease Agreement Yet
Nov 5, 2005 8:19 AM

The AP reports that the Post reports (don't you love that?) that there's still no deal on the lease agreement on the new baseball stadium, and that the two sides will continue to talk next week. Sticking points include terms of rent payments and development rights outside the stadium.

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Tony and the Cadillac
Nov 3, 2005 12:59 PM
A fun quote from Mayor Tony in the Examiner's piece on the possible stadium cost overruns ("Mayor promises Nats stadium will cost D.C. less than $535M"): "People aren't going to be sitting on folding chairs or rugs, but it's going to come in under $535 [million]."
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Lease Agreement Today? And Soccer Stadium News
Nov 3, 2005 9:40 AM
This morning's Washington Times reports that DC and Major League Baseball officials are to meet today to finalize the lease agreement on the new baseball stadium. Other notes: DCSEC officials downplay the Cadillac-vs-Buick talk of scaling back the stadium design; and DCSEC is to meet with HOK Sport on Monday morning to review ballpark designs (with briefings for city officials and the council in the pipeline before the designs are released publicly). This is outside of my purview, but I get asked about it a lot so I'll mention it although I won't be following it--the article says that DCSEC has received Marion Barry's support to build a new soccer stadium at Poplar Point, which is just across the Anacostia River from Near Southeast. From the article: " Barry, who has long opposed the construction of a facility for D.C. United east of the Anacostia River, changed his position after reviewing plans that included the construction of affordable housing and neighborhood-serving retail, commission members said.  [...] Officials hope the new soccer stadium can open around the same time as the new ballpark, but the city must first wait for a transfer of the land from the federal government. Legislation to approve the transfer awaits action by Congress."
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Today's Stadium News Tidbits
Nov 2, 2005 7:06 PM
Reading the Associated Press so you don't have to.... In "Mayor Williams Hopes To Firm Up Ballpark Lease; Avoid Overrun Costs," Mr. Bowtie says that he hopes the lease agreement on the new ballpark is firmed up this week, and that the new owners (whoever they are) may be called on to add some of the "bells and whistles" needed to make the ballpark "special" (you know, a Cadillac and not a Buick). And in "City Pushes Job Opportunities with Stadium Construction," there's (very) brief coverage of the Ballpark Business and Economic Opportunity Conference that was held today at the Convention Center.
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Stadium Cutbacks Considered - Don't Panic
Nov 1, 2005 10:38 PM

Wednesday's Post brings us "Stadium Cutbacks Considered", which states that "the rising price of construction materials has significantly increased the projected cost of the District's baseball stadium complex, prompting officials to begin discussing what to eliminate from the project[....] [P]otential cutbacks could come from features inside or outside the ballpark, such as reducing the size of concourses, suites and other amenities or moving parking above ground and reducing the number of retail stores at the site." While this sounds disconcerting, I think a simple solution has probably already been arrived at, if not announced--to no longer include the land immediately south of N Street, which was always considered to be "amenity space," as part of the stadium construction, and instead let the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation handle that land's development as part of the Ballpark District. And this is hinted at in the Post piece: "Sports commission officials said last week that plans for underground parking, retail shops on the stadium site and some plazas outside the park might be eliminated. Those features are not considered core items by Major League Baseball, but they have been sought by the city to help generate more revenue from a ballpark entertainment district along the Anacostia in near Southeast that would feature restaurants and retail. [...] If necessary, features not contained in the agreement will be eliminated or paid for in other ways, such as by private developers." In fact, a schematic drawing of the stadium site included in a handout at the DCSEC's public ballpark meeting this evening show those areas as blacked out. I would imagine that private developers would be quite happy to get the opportunity to build on the stadium site, and the city would get the on-site retail and entertainment venues it wants without having to foot the bill....

More posts: Anacostia Waterfront Corp., staddis, Nationals Park

Stadium Financing Moves Forward
Nov 1, 2005 4:46 PM
By a 10-2 vote, the DC council approved the necessary "technical" amendments to the financing bill for the new baseball stadium. Tony's happy. UPDATE: Here's the AP's report on the vote, and NBC4's, which includes a fun additional tidbit about a bill in Congress demanding the federal government sell land to DC instead of giving it away, and that would include the sliver of a triangle at the intersection of 1st, P, and Potomac, which is on the stadium footprint. But it sounds like it won't be an issue, that a separate bill backed by Pres. Bush and Rep. Tom Davis would transfer the land.
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