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How Much for Nationals Park?

In our story today about the ballpark district around Nationals Park, we included this graphic about the growing total cost of the project. The cost will go higher, with three of the eminent domain cases still tied up in court mediation.




Saturday's exhibition was a warmup, a chance for about 3,000 fans to try out seats, buy food, use restrooms and, most importantly, see what baseball looks like in a ballpark built just for the sport.
(Bill O'leary - The Post)


The land owners have asked for $24 million more than the city has offered. Remember, the D.C. Council's cost cap did not include the land prices since there was no way to predict what the court would do. But that's why people like council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) voted against the financing package. What do you think--was the cap disingenous or were people like Mendelson being nit-picky? Let us know in the comments section.

By David A Nakamura  |  March 24, 2008; 7:53 AM ET
Categories:  David Nakamura , Nationals  
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Comments

As a DC resident, I am proud that our city single-handedly lured baseball back to DC and built a new stadium on time and on budget. While every one of our neighboring jurisdictions is suffering through budget shortfalls and mismanaged bureaucracies, DC is a shining star of sound fiscal policies and good government. The stadium will pay itself back and then some.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

"Disingenuous" may not be the right word, but there were three very important omissions:

1. Maintenance and rehabilitation costs. What will they be and who will bear them? And shouldn't the Nationals' rent be applied against these costs rather than the construction costs?

2. Revenue from taxes on ticket and concession sales presumes an average attendance of 30,000 per game. But only 18,000 season-ticket-equivalents have been sold (4,000 FEWER than 2005), and it is unlikely, at least for this year, that the difference will be made up by individual game ticket sales. Similarly, revenue from the gross receipts tax is based on projections that may not bear out in a down economy.

3. The stadium agreement obliges the District to make significant capital improvements during the 30-year life of the lease in order to keep the stadium in the front rank of major league ballparks. This is an open-ended and unfunded liability.

Of course, the Post also didn't take into account increased tax revenues from development around the ballpark, but this was appropriate in view of the dispute over the extent to which that development would have occurred even without the ballpark.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Development definitely would have happened in that area even without the ballpark as several projects were already approved and under construction.

However, the property values, against which taxes are assessed, would have been significantly lower without the ballpark. Just look at how land values spiked after the stadium was announced. Prior to the ballpark decision, land was trading at about $30/FAR sf. After the ballpark, it started trading at $60/FAR sf and is now up into the $80/FAR sf range and holding. This translates into almost 3 times more tax revenenue than would have been expected without the ballpark.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

The development might have eventually occured in a piecemeal fashion. But the stadium spurred greater levels and coordination for development. The next plan should be the removal of the poorly maintained low income housing off South Capitol Street and replacing it with mixed-income housing, community rec center and a police substation.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

The Post's graphic on the "overruns" is the only disingenuous part of this thing. Look carefully at how the Post has cobbled together the total price tag of $769.6 million.

$31 million from MLB and the Lerners towards the stadium. These not only cost the tax payers of D.C. nothing, they get them a better park than what D.C. was prepared to spend.

$20 million from the Federal Government to improve the Metro stadium. Again, costs D.C. tax payers nothing, and benefits all of the new development in Near Southeast, not just the Nats.

$62.6 million for South Capitol improvements, including the bridge. Paying careful attention to the fact relegated to a footnote, that this was largely Federal money, these improvements again benefit all of the new development in Near Southeast, and not just the ballpark.

What's left? about $50 million in land overruns when the dust settles and $2 million for art work. The land is a legitimate issue -- the ONLY legitimate issue -- and the artwork is hardly a necessary expense.

Given that the land price was predicted to be higher AT THE TIME, and was knowingly kept out of the cap for that reason, it sure appears that but for the $2 million for artwork, the stadium has come in ON TIME AND ON BUDGET. The rest of the calculation is hatchet job math that the Post seems to be fixated on to create a story where none exists.

The final cherry on top of this yellow journalistic sunday? The table at the bottom, which notes that debt service on the bonds taken out by the city cost D.C. $38 million a year, yet the stadium has allowed the city to set up a revenue stream of about $50 million a year. That means that the stadium is ADDING $12 million to the city's coffers each year that would not have been there before the bonds were issued.

While the total cost of the stadium is a big number, the bottom line result can't even be hidden by the Post: D.C. is generating more revenue for the citizens of the city with a ballpark than it was generating without a ballpark. That should be heralded as a good thing, not painted to be a bad thing by those who foretold gloom and doom at the time the stadium was approved and now desparately want not to be proven wrong by the reality of this great thing the city has accomplished.

Posted by: Deep Fried Screech | March 24, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The Post's graphic on the "overruns" is the only disingenuous part of this thing. Look carefully at how the Post has cobbled together the total price tag of $769.6 million.

$31 million from MLB and the Lerners towards the stadium. These not only cost the tax payers of D.C. nothing, they get them a better park than what D.C. was prepared to spend.

$20 million from the Federal Government to improve the Metro stadium. Again, costs D.C. tax payers nothing, and benefits all of the new development in Near Southeast, not just the Nats.

$62.6 million for South Capitol improvements, including the bridge. Paying careful attention to the fact relegated to a footnote, that this was largely Federal money, these improvements again benefit all of the new development in Near Southeast, and not just the ballpark.

What's left? about $50 million in land overruns when the dust settles and $2 million for art work. The land is a legitimate issue -- the ONLY legitimate issue -- and the artwork is hardly a necessary expense.

Given that the land price was predicted to be higher AT THE TIME, and was knowingly kept out of the cap for that reason, it sure appears that but for the $2 million for artwork, the stadium has come in ON TIME AND ON BUDGET. The rest of the calculation is hatchet job math that the Post seems to be fixated on to create a story where none exists.

The final cherry on top of this yellow journalistic sunday? The table at the bottom, which notes that debt service on the bonds taken out by the city cost D.C. $38 million a year, yet the stadium has allowed the city to set up a revenue stream of about $50 million a year. That means that the stadium is ADDING $12 million to the city's coffers each year that would not have been there before the bonds were issued.

While the total cost of the stadium is a big number, the bottom line result can't even be hidden by the Post: D.C. is generating more revenue for the citizens of the city with a ballpark than it was generating without a ballpark. That should be heralded as a good thing, not painted to be a bad thing by those who foretold gloom and doom at the time the stadium was approved and now desparately want not to be proven wrong by the reality of this great thing the city has accomplished.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

My only complaint against the construction of the stadium is that they tore Nation down.

Other than that, that whole area was pretty much as ghetto as there was in the city, at least the stadium is helping in developing the area.

My main worry is how the extra tax revenue from property taxes and the such coming from the redevelopment will be used by the Dc Government in the future.

Politicians, as we know, are not accountants. Their skills at managing budgets leave alot to be desired.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

And for all of this money, only a quarter of the jobs went to DC residents. Unbelievable!

Posted by: jackwatson1968 | March 24, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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