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Catania Attacks Baseball Projections

As the loudest critic of public financing for the Washington Nationals' baseball stadium, D.C. Council member David Catania had more recently seemed to mute his objections. With the stadium build and the team playing there, Catania figured he had fought the good fight and it was time to move on to other issues, such as Healthy DC.

But yesterday, Catania (I-At Large) was back on the warpath, sending a letter to D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi that challenges the assumptions in a consultant's report from November 2005 that appears to have significantly overstated the likely attendance for the first season at Nationals Park. Catania's gripe is that his council colleagues who approved the $611 million stadium deal supported the project based on reports like the one from Economic Research Associates.

The amount of people who attend Nats games is important because the city is relying on taxes from tickets and concessions to help pay debt service on the ballpark bonds. Gandhi has said there is no fear of bringing in too little revenue; in fact, the city is projected to take in $20 million in excess revenue each season, enough to fund construction of a new soccer stadium, Gandhi said.

Catania's point is that the city should try to recoup money from the consultants it has hired, including Deloitte Touche, which underestimated the amount the city would have to fork over as it annexed private land for the stadium project.

By David A Nakamura  |  May 28, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  City Finances , David Nakamura  
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