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Thanks, Mayor Will--er, Fenty...!

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is famous for walking door-to-door across the city to win election. But apparently he missed Brendan Owens, the vice president for LEED technical development for the U.S. Green Building Council. Today, at a news conference to kick off this weekend's opening of Nationals Park, Owens was called upon to present a LEED silver-level certification award marking the stadium as the first "green" ballpark in the country.

Only problem: Owens promptly referred to Fenty as "Mayor Williams" during his speech. As onlookers snickered, Fenty tried to surpress a grin. But when Owens made the mistake a second time, Fenty cut in, putting his arm around Owens and cracking: "You can call me whatever you want, as long as you call me mayor."

Everyone laughed. "I got caught up in the moment," Owens said in an interview afterward. "You're not going to quote me, are you?"

Speaking of former mayor Anthony A. WIlliams (D), he was conspicuous by his absence, though Fenty did acknowledge him during his remarks.

As for other dignitaries on hand today, after the jump we offer a sampling of key players in the stadium development and their thoughts on the eve of the grand opening:

Allen Lew, former chief executive of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, who also oversaw construction of the Washington Convention Center: "When we built the Convention Center, we had a punch list of 22,068 [minor] items that were still not finished. We finished them over six months. [After the six months] there were six things left that we hadn't done. The board of directors wanted to use that against me to withhold my bonus. I said, 'Okay, we'll get those done in two more days.'"

Gregory O'Dell, current chief executive of the sports commission: "We'll have a sizable punch list. Things like dents in furniture, or wood that needs to be refinished. The biggest thing might be a television in a luxury suite that needs to be replaced. Now we just have to manage the schedule to get the workers in and out and not disrupt operations."

Stan Kasten, Nationals president: "You're not going to like this, but this is just another milestone. We have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be."

Mark Lerner, team co-owner: "I can't wait until tomorrow to see the look on people's faces. We need a camera up there to record the first fans who come in the gate."

Greg Colevas, vice president of Clark Construction, which also helped build the Convention Center: "I'm from D.C. I remember going to Senators games as a kid. This is so much more exciting than the Convention Center because it's sports. This is special. I'm going to bring my [five] kids and hopefully someday they'll bring their kids."

Joe Spear, stadium architect from HOK Sport: "Every city I go into, I tell the client, 'The most important design decision you will make is the site.' This is a great site because it has changed the neighborhood. My next job will be in St. Petersburg for the [Tampa Bay] Rays. If you can imagine a big boomerang [as the seating bowl], with a 350-foot mast in center field and a canvas canopy that can extend to cover the playing field. It can open and close. It'll be ready in 2012."

By David A Nakamura  |  March 28, 2008; 11:32 AM ET
Categories:  David Nakamura , Nationals  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Life After D.C. Schools: Brady, Ackerman
Next: Ready to Be Just a Fan


REALITY CHECK: Play ball while we imagine the same urgency, planning, focus and funding being put into improving D.C. education, employment, public safety, and truly affordable housing. Now, let's watch how much actual money the seasonally open Nationals baseball stadium does NOT earn for the District.

Show me the money going to our city, and the total amount of jobs that will be filled by actual District residents. Show me the actual amount of jobs that went to D.C. residents in building the stadium. In fact, show me how much more pressure will be on MPD officers and the courts to resolve D.C.'s spiraling socioeconomic problems.

Watch how this new boondoggle near the Anacostia river will only exacerbate the D.C. fiscal crisis that CFO Natwar Gandhi and the D.C. Council knows is coming. Don't we have enough big white elephants (convention center, baseball stadium, near-empty condos, and a potential soccer stadium) that won't generate major money for the District of Columbia? Where is all the local retail and employment that can generate millions more in year-round revenue?

Let's not forget the revenue-generating District families that are finding better prospects in Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere. Seasonal dollars from suburban baseball fans and tourists won't be enough to increase D.C. government's failing budget. Don't we have far too many socioeconomic, infrastructure and fiscal needs that won't get the attention and financing given to this publicly financed (debt service) private venture?

There will be real reasons to cheer when mayor Fenty's campaign promises of public education excellence, consistent fiscal competence, abundant local retail and jobs, truly affordable mixed-income housing, and a REAL family-friendly functional urban environment actually comes to D.C. Based on the current political will and competence, my guess it may come somewhere near or after the year 2028.

An exceptional per capita increase in D.C.'s homeless population, cutbacks on District services, rising random crime, hidden fiscal instability, crumbling infrastructure, and spiraling socioeconomic disruptions are signs of incompetent leadership and phony governance. Behind the hype, publicity, photo ops and mayoral secrecy, the pretense of leadership is no substitute for real results.

In the meantime, have a Ben's chili dog and play ball.

Dennis Moore, Chairperson -
District of Columbia Independents for Citizen Control Party

Posted by: dcindependents | March 28, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

In Response to Mr. Miller's comment:

every sausage and peppers hotdog, every beer, every soda, ever replica player jersey and hat, ever bag of peanuts bought at the stadium is taxed and that tax goes to DC.

now the nationals stadium won't be as busy as the verizon center, but baseball plays over 80 home games a year which means the stadium will generate more revenue than Fedex Field which houses twice the number of fans but is used 1/10th the number of games.

did any of your politicians create legislation that forces events to employ a certain percentage of DC residents as workers? Working the concession stand etc. is a nice little bit of extra change especially for the youth. if not, shame on them and shame on you for electing them.

Also, what about the increase in metro riders to get to the stadium since parking is sparse? doesn't that help DC?

once the planned office buildings are built with the underground parking won't the parking be taxed? even if those office building are housed with employees from maryland and virginia the utilities used are taxed, and they have to eat somewhere thus giving DC restaurants more customers and revenue.

Have you seen the revitalization that has occurred in and around both the Verizon Center, Convention Center and XM Radio buildings? Funny what a big shiny building can attract as neighbors. It can turn a crack house into a middle-class row house pretty quick.

Oh BTW, didn't the Fenty Administration raise per-capita education spending by 4% for the 2008 fiscal year? Doesn't sound like the stadium was built on the backs of DC's students to me. if the students weren't getting their fair share of money it had nothing to do with the Nationals.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | March 28, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

"every sausage and peppers hotdog, every beer, every soda, ever replica player jersey and hat, ever bag of peanuts bought at the stadium is taxed and that tax goes to DC."

Wrong. The city's ballpark debt is paid back through the gross receipts tax, rent from the team, and, the tax revenue generated from food and concessions, tickets, and parking.

Thus, that paragraph should read: "every sausage and peppers hotdog, every beer, every soda, ever replica player jersey and hat, ever bag of peanuts bought at the stadium is taxed and that tax goes to paying off the District's $611 million ballpark debt."

Posted by: dcnative20003 | March 29, 2008 7:31 AM | Report abuse

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