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Two Words on the Nats' Owner: Abe Pollin

Many thousands of words out there today on the hooha over the selection of the Lerner family as the owner of the Washington Nationals. There's one of the best Boz columns in memory, in which Mr. Washington Baseball Himself takes us deep inside Bud Selig's mind and shows that there was never really any doubt that it would be the Lerners. There's Steve Pearlstein's excellent column blasting the race men of District politics for attempting to twist every last issue into a referendum on racial power and position. And there's a fine profile by Adam Bernstein and Dana Hedgpeth of the Lerners--especially fine when you note that nobody in the Lerner family would talk to us for this or any other story throughout this long, painful process.

I won't add to your reading burden on this except to offer two words: Abe Pollin. Among sports owners, there are a few types: Crazy super-rich guys on mad ego trips (Steinbrenner, Cuban, Snyder) who are fun to watch because they spend like drunken sailors and they're fabulously entertaining for fans. Corporations that somehow persuaded their boards to let them go off on really dumb adventures that sounded good because a bunch of executives drank the Kool-Aid on the notion of synergy between media companies and sports franchises (Tribune, Disney, New York Times). Rich sports nuts who aren't quite rich enough to create a successful team, in part because they insist on running it themselves.

And then there are the guys Bud Selig loves, the families that made a bundle--many bundles--in some prosaic field (car lots, shopping centers, pizza places, supermarkets) and got into sports in good part because of their deep roots in the town where they made their money.

The Lerners fit that model. So does the guy any sports team owner should want to model himself after: Abe Pollin. Sure, sure, his teams have suffered from chronic loser syndrome, and nobody wants the Lerners to follow that pattern. But as a business, the Wizards are one solid franchise. The Abe Pollin Center is the model of how to use a sports facility to revitalize a city. And in the matter of race and the volatile nature of politics in this city, you don't hear anybody accusing Abe Pollin of racism. Fans respect Pollin because he paid for his own arena, because he's committed to this city in a big way, and because he believes in good people, like Wes Unseld, not because he's black but because he's a straight, honest, talented guy. No one will argue that Unseld is a great sculptor of basketball success--the record shows that simply to be false--but Pollin has generally done the right thing, even when he got caught up in the Michael Jordan insanity.

The Lerners, like Pollin, are shy folks. They will not be the media-savvy owners who are the public face of their team, like a certain Mr. Snyder. They will be the moneybags in the background, which is as fans--and the city government--should want it. They will pick management and set them on their way toward creating a solid business. Ideally, they'll be more freespending and more rigorous in demanding success than Pollin has been, but they will hew to his model of the owner as the power behind the scenes and most definitely not the guy with his hands on the wheel. For that, we have Stan Kasten, who created the modern baseball juggernaut known as the Atlanta Braves.

And like Pollin, the Lerners are a progressive bunch who believe deeply in the importance of fighting for racial justice. My family doesn't use shopping malls, so I have nothing for you on the relative quality of the Lerners' projects around the region (White Flint, Tysons, Dulles Town Center). I do know that people in the real estate business think highly of them. What you can glean about the Lerners is that they are deeply invested in and committed to this region. Go to Bethesda and have a look at the Imagination Stage children's theater; it's a small gem and Lerner family money--all charity--played the essential role in getting it built. You'll see the family name on facilities at George Washington University and at the Ohr Kodesh synagogue in Chevy Chase, institutions that vouch for the Lerners' generosity.

When the rabble-rousers finally pipe down, the Lerners will find a way to start telling that story--without fanfare, without boasting. And then, far more important, their actions will speak for them.

As a reporter, I wish the Lerners had been willing earlier to allay some of these fears about race and intent. But the fact that they haven't made any public declaration says nothing about who they are other than that they, like Selig, value discretion and even a bit of modesty. First, they wanted the team and the rules as they understood them said no talking in public. (Obviously the other bid groups thought they were operating under different rules. Fat lot of good that did them.)

Now the Lerners have some proving to do. But for now, their track record is good enough for me.

By Marc Fisher |  May 3, 2006; 11:43 AM ET
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Nice blog, but in all your years of living here you've never been to Tysons or White Flint? I find that hard to believe...

Posted by: Washington, DC | May 3, 2006 11:54 AM

Oh, I've probably been to all of their major properties as a reporter, some on multiple occasions. My point was only that I haven't been there as a shopper and can't compare their success as a shopping environment to other such places.

Posted by: Fisher | May 3, 2006 12:08 PM

Did two guys EVER deserve each other more than Rock Newman and Marion "Night Owl" Barry? The D.C. council frequently has delusions of competence and importance, and Barry's the poster child. It's gotten to the point where you're surprised when the D.C. council does anything BUT strut and pose. I'm no Bud Selig fan, but the Lerners are a class act with deep pockets. They'll be great owners.

Posted by: TMU | May 3, 2006 12:52 PM

Great insight on the types of owners in professional sports. I don't have any reason to doubt that the Lerner family will do a great job with the Nationals, but what is the basis for your comment that their family members "...are a progressive bunch who believe deeply in the importance of fighting for racial justice."?
Thanks again for your insightful blog.

Posted by: Manan Sharma | May 3, 2006 1:09 PM

Once again, DC did this all wrong. We put up $611M, WE should have determined who would get the team, and it should have been a condition of the stadium lease. The Feb. showdown proved that when it came down to it, MLB needed us more than we needed them. At least there's a 30-year lease.

Posted by: RML/DC | May 3, 2006 1:10 PM

And what skills and/or background does the DC City Council have in picking successful sports owners? Yes, they should have had some level of input into the decision but to say that they should have the final say on the owner is just an absurd proposition.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | May 3, 2006 1:22 PM

I want to congratulate those who have stood up and called out Marion Barry and Vincent Orange for trying to play race politics again in a most insidious manner.

It is time we stood up to this kind of thing in DC and I mean all of us White, Black, Latino, Asian, gay and straight.

We must stop letting people like Barry and now Vicent Orange who seems to think this will revitalize his non-existant chances to be Mayor, continously try to divide us.

It is time we realized that it is only if we work together on the issues of importance in this City that we will make progress.

We need to find the way to jointly make policy that will not force people out of their homes becasue of gentrification, educate our children, ensure the saftey of our streets and our homes.

Calling one group of prominent African Americans "rented" vs. in comparison to another group of prominent African Americans is just an insult to all decent people.

Baseball is a sideline in our City. Unfortunately we are stuck with a lousy deal foisted on us by Mayor Williams and Linda Cropp, but lets make the best of it and now work with the Lerners and their partners to make sure that baseball will really help our kids and help our neighborhoods.

We should do all we can to make sure that Ted Lerner will be the kind of team owner, as Marc Fisher reminds us, that Abe Pollin is.

Doing that means welcoming him and the entire group with open arms and working closely with them so that the people of the District, all the people, will eventually benefit from baseball being back in DC.

Posted by: dupont | May 3, 2006 1:24 PM

"Rich sports nuts who aren't quite rich enough to create a successful team, in part because they insist on running it themselves." You mean Malek, Zients, et. al.?

Posted by: DC | May 3, 2006 1:25 PM

Maybe the Lerners could make a splash by dispatching a Brinks truck to Roger Clemons' home?

Posted by: Sore arm | May 3, 2006 1:30 PM

Can you please expand on your comment - And like Pollin, the Lerners are a progressive bunch who believe deeply in the importance of fighting for racial justice.

How do you know this?

Posted by: DC | May 3, 2006 1:37 PM

I think he means Jeff Smuylan. Smuylan owned the Mariners until he ran out of money and had to sell.

Posted by: DaveR | May 3, 2006 1:38 PM

Oh, the D.C. Council should have picked the owner? Uh, that wasn't the deal. Never would have been, either. At this point, Marion Barry's the George Constanza of metro D.C. -- to figure out the right thing to do, just listen to Marion, and then do the OPPOSITE. The only guy who's made less sense on this issue is Plotkin, who somehow argues that Smulyan was local, and the Lerners aren't local enough -- presumably, because Mark hasn't talked to them at enough cocktail parties in Georgetown. It'll be great to have REAL owners for the Nationals.

Posted by: TMU | May 3, 2006 1:38 PM

The Lerners will be great owners not only because of the way they act but also the way they don't act. Mr. Snyder could use some of their maturity.

Posted by: Alexandria, VA | May 3, 2006 1:38 PM

The Night Owl's on Sportstalk980, right now, jabbering away like a rat on crack about how the D.C. Council should have a "say" in who gets the team, making NO sense at all. You know, if his constituents want to keep electing this walking joke, that's their privilege, but the rest of us don't have to take him seriously.

Posted by: TMU | May 3, 2006 2:05 PM

I can only imagine what would happen if the cronies Marion Barry would like to see own the Nationals came to pass. If that happened we could expect to see the Nats run into the ground much the same way then Mayor Barry ran the city into the ground twenty years ago. Try to imagine the new Nats stadium crumbling the same way the DC schools are crumbling these days for starters.

Marion Barry is no friend of racial harmony. He needs the racial divide in order to maintain his feeble grip on what little power he holds these days. Poor fool.

Posted by: Keith | May 3, 2006 2:06 PM

They really need to make Barry take drug tests.

Posted by: Annandale Mark | May 3, 2006 2:20 PM

Just because the Mayor and the DC City Council was dumb enough to subsidize MLB's bad decision making in taking on ownership of the Expos to save "one of the boys," doesn't mean that they should get any input on who the owner is. They're betting that the stadium will deliver more in revenue in costs, and hoping that the pass-long of taxes to DC consumers is too diffuse to measure. They were willing to take that gamble independent of the ownership group so they can suck it up.

Obviously Mr Lerner has the wit to recognize a good real estate deal when he sees one; it remains to be seen how the new Nationals owners get on with the municipal equivalent of the Keystone Cops.

Posted by: CM in DC | May 3, 2006 2:24 PM

sorry, that should have read "the Mayor and the DC City Council WERE dumb enough"

Posted by: CM in DC | May 3, 2006 2:25 PM

While I was behind the Malek-Zients group b/c of all the effort they put forth in bringing baseball back to DC -- and for which I and rightly the city should be grateful -- the egos in that group would've resulted in a difficult if not disastrous tenure. Although I, like most out there, know very little about them, the Lerners seem like a strong family w/ deep DC roots, and I for one am looking forward to their ownership, Kasten's magic, and sending a Brinks truck to pick up The Rocket!

Marc, PLEASE expound on the Lerners being committed to social justice.

Posted by: Rez | May 3, 2006 2:35 PM

Good grief! None of you peole know the first !@#$%^&* thing about how the deal was structured to build the stadium. It doesn't use a dime of city money, instead relying on a tax of businesses with revenues in excess of $7 million -- most of which will later be ponying up for luxury suites at the new stadium.

As ever, baseball in DC is just one more sick chapter in how race is used and abused by the African-American community and self-loathing liberals who need to assuage their white liberal guilt.

The team is here, we're building a stadium and now we have owners. If you can't focus on what is happening on the field and are so upset about everything else, then move out of the city.

As a born and bred Washingtonian, I couldn't be happier about baseball being here.

Posted by: Glover Park | May 3, 2006 2:42 PM

Nothing personal, but if you've got a choice of listening to (a) Marion Barry; or (b) Ted Lerner on almost ANY topic, you're better off with the guy who hasn't spent his whole life screaming "RACISM!". Here's hoping that the Night Owl will be sitting in the last row in the upper deck for the rest of his days.

Posted by: TMU | May 3, 2006 2:57 PM

It's paradoxical, bordering on lunacy (but then again, we are talking about DC politics) that a (1) local ownership group with (2) deep community ties and (3) even deeper pockets would be criticized. My guess is that no one on the DC Council will be complaining once all that money coming into the city via NoVA and MD residents going to the ballgame and spending their money at the stadium start to flow.

What is this sick martyr syndrome that almost mandates the poisoning of the well? Was it not enough that DC "lost" the Redskins when Barry, the forgettable mayor after him, and the rest of that corrupt crew jerked around JKC so much that he said "screw you guys, I'm going to 'Raljohn'." Now they have to play crony politics with MLB (admittedly, not a group with the cleanest of hands) because a few rabble rousers don't like the make up of the ownership group. We should be THRILLED that a local group with BILLIONS in the bank has agreed to buy what is not one of the better teams and will make every effort to not only turn it into a great revenue generator, but a winner.

Quite whining, DC Council!

Posted by: Anonymizer | May 3, 2006 3:02 PM

GP, don't confuse politicians looking out for (or pandering to) their constituents for "self-loathing liberals." I'm a hard-core liberal and fully supportive of baseball in DC.

I'm not so supportive of public dollars going into the mix. By the way, higher taxes on business are still public dollars. You can't equate higher taxes to business investment in the ballpark.

Boston was right to tell MLB they could stick it when they wanted Boston to pony up public money to replace Fenway. The Red Sox will do just fine staying put, thank you very much.

Posted by: Richard (Reston) | May 3, 2006 3:07 PM

No, the business tax is not public money because the public never sees it. It's specific tax, that is sunsetted by the way, designed to pay for the stadium. It's not like the money is being taken out of the school budget or something like that. So it's NOT public money because the public doesn't pay for it, only extremely profitable businesses do.

That's what I mean when people have no idea what they are talking about regarding this issue.

And your Boston reference is equally inane. DC is not the same size as Boston. When it is, your point will be valid.

Posted by: Glover Park | May 3, 2006 3:16 PM

Besides, RIchard in Reston, you don't live in the city. So you opinion on what to do with public money counts for squat.

Move into the city and then we'll talk.

Posted by: Glover Park | May 3, 2006 3:17 PM

As a Black Man, I support Mr. Lerners purchase of the Nationals. I think he will make a good owner. As far as the racial component, its not Mr Lerner's fault that only a handfull of Blacks have several million dollars. After you take away Oprah, Cosby and Johnson no Black person in America can put up 25% of 450 million. Thats the real issue but the liberal mediawould rather try to label this man as a racist.

Posted by: GT (Frederick) | May 3, 2006 3:32 PM

GT, the media didn't label Lerner a racist, Marion Barry and Vincent Orange did. (Didn't that whole "liberal media bias" thing go out of vogue when Clinton left office?)

Do you support either one of them from outside the city?

Posted by: Glover Park | May 3, 2006 3:35 PM

As an DC resident, I say give the Lerner's a chance. I think when its all said in done, we will have a great baseball organization with a winning tradition.

Because of the history of DC, race will always be an issue. We can sit here and beat BARRY and ORANGE up on what they said, but the bottom line is that the only color that really mattered was GREEN. SELIG saw a family instead of a group, that he liked and picked the family.

My only concern is, will the employees get a raise (I am one of them) and will the Lerners stand up to the mess called MASN?

Posted by: 20019 | May 3, 2006 3:48 PM

Marc omitted perhaps the best example of a sports owner Washington has ever seen: Jack Kent Cooke. The JKC philosophy, in 3 steps: 1) have lots of money; 2) hire people that know what they're doing; 3) stay the heck out of the way of the people you hired, and give them whatever money they need.

Clearly the Lerners have step 1) down. The jury, obviously, is still out on 2) and 3). On the one hand, Ted Lerner is described as a micromanager; on the other, I don't think he suffers from the delusion that he knows how to run a baseball team better than, say, Stan Kasten. So here's helping he will follow the JKC model and lead the Nats to future glory.

Posted by: Dave | May 3, 2006 3:50 PM

Is it not true that there'd be no baseball in DC without the support of Vincent Orange and Fred Malek?

The Lerner's ownership group, both minority and white, really didn't do anything to make the team a reality when the prospect was in doubt.

Posted by: DC | May 3, 2006 3:51 PM

I'm not surprised by the Lerner selection. That's how they operate. Let somebody else walk the mile in the hot sun, and they show up at the finish line to wear the crown.

Posted by: The Honest Truth | May 3, 2006 3:51 PM

Vincent Orange is the guy who really need to take a hard look in the mirror. I mean, the Night Owl is a proven nitwit, playing to the galleries, with no further ambitions in life beyond (a) breathing; and (b) drawing checks from the city taxpayers. Vincent Orange, nominally, wants to be mayor. You'd think he'd have a little more class, or (at least) choose his company a little more carefully.

Posted by: TMU | May 3, 2006 3:59 PM

George Bush pioneered the business model of Rent-A-Token for baseball ownership. The Lerners did not lead with the same card, but when push came to shove, they too drew from the deck. By then, the showcase ponies were all accounted for. The minor-league minority investors they drafted have little cash and even less clout. But Bud and Ted's Excellent Adventure was always a done deal.

Posted by: Make It Plain | May 3, 2006 3:59 PM

lets hope lerner sinks some dough into the ballpark. an extra $20 million or so would go a long way to make the park a very good one, rather than a mediocre one.

its also interesting to note that developers have begun to line up to develop property near the site

Posted by: cmon lerner | May 3, 2006 4:01 PM

This debate has been pretty ridiculous to watch. It exemplifies why I, like many people, have lived in the DC area for more than 10 years, while moving out of the District after only one year.

To those who say that the opinions of those outside the District don't matter when it comes to Nats issues, I submit that this is a regional team, not just a "DC" team. I would guess that most of fan revenue comes from individuals and businesses residing outside the city. We're saddled with enduring the pettiness of the DC government in part, I suspect, because MLB felt it might be good to help revitalize a city run in to the ground by incompetnet government.

I agree with an earlier poster who calimed that this is the reason the Redskins no longer play in the District. The city government consistently shoots itself in both feet and keeps reloading. Until the residents realize this and start holding their elected government accountable for credible performance, the city is going to continue to flounder.

Posted by: 22042 | May 3, 2006 4:30 PM

Councilman Jack Evans says that there could be "backlash" from the Lerner choice. Is Evans admitting now that DC was betrayed by MLB? That he was tricked?

This is the guy that "feared" MLB would choose Portland, OR over DC if DC didn't offer full public financing. Now it turns out that Portland cannot even support its nearly bankrupt basketball team. MLB clearly played one municipality off of another to get a better deal.

Evans was the pansy. What makes it worse is that he was an arrogant to all of the skeptics.

Posted by: re jack evans | May 3, 2006 4:33 PM

22042, if you feel you get a say in the Nationals, etc. then will you also pay a commuter tax? Help collect our garbage? Fix our potholes?

When push came to shove, you left the District fast. Unless you're prepared to put your money where your mouth is, then I suggest you keep your mouth closed.

As for those who suggest that the Lerner group only brought on token persons of color at the last moment, you have no idea what you're talking about and it just plain isn't relevant. No one said anything like this to Dan Synder, Ted Leonsis, Abe Pollin, or even the Squier himself Jack Kent Cooke. This is race politics in its lowest and ugliest form and all of you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Posted by: Glover Park | May 3, 2006 4:36 PM

re jack evans, read the rest of the posts here as well as the ranting of idiots like Orange and Barry to understand what Evans meant by backlash.

As ever, this area is populated by those who have no idea what they're talking about.

Posted by: Glover Park | May 3, 2006 4:38 PM

This is interesting dialogue, for a fan base whose beloved sports franchise wears a racist insignia on the slide of their helmets. Maybe, some of this energy could be used to rectify thois blatant level of disrespect for native persons, and fellow Americans.

As a black, I'm not ashamed of Barry. He obviously has his issues. But, in a city, where too many elected officials lack real political courage on tough issues, his point of view is sometimes necessary, no matter how outrageous it sometime seems. He simply brings issues to the front that people are discussing in all corners of the city, that some shy away from.

Bottom line, l didn't find any encouragement,with any of the minority partners that were profiled. Did we ever really think that any minority participation would amount to more than mere tokenism. Until we have minorty groups willing to ante up and assume the risk, as a majority partner, this deal will smell of the stinch of many other joint ventures professional sports.

Posted by: H Street | May 3, 2006 4:50 PM

Responding to requests for backup on the Lerners' approach on justice issues, here are some of their donations over the past three years, courtesy of their IRS 990 forms for their family foundation:

Aside from huge contributions to GW University, the University of Pennsylvania, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a slew of Jewish private schools in Montgomery County and the District (Charles E. Smith school, Jewish Primary Day School, and several others), the family has made large gifts to several local arts groups (Bethesda Performing Arts Academy, Signature Theater in Arlington, the Kennedy Center, the Corcoran Gallery), and the Anti-Defamation League ($50,000), Food and Friends (which feeds AIDS patients, $30,000), Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Fight for Children (a D.C. charity that pays to get low-income kids into private schools), NARAL (the pro-abortion rights group), Junior Achievement, and a bunch of other religious, cultural and educational organizations.

Posted by: Fisher | May 3, 2006 5:01 PM

H Street--you are right about Barry--he brings issues forth that people think. That doesn't make them right however. I'm a white male that has lived and worked in the greater DC area for almost 50 years. I can never be as rich as Lerner but that doesn't mean I resent him. This is all good stuff for the city H street--more jobs, more tax revenue, more cleaning up the city, better services in time. None of it is bad. The city is changing, and I believe for the better. Barry had his time and it's a different time now.

Posted by: Annandale Mark | May 3, 2006 5:12 PM

I have known Ted Lerner since we were at Roopsevelt High School at 13th and Upshur sts. N.w. in 1942 1943 and 1944.He was the editor of the school newspaper, The Roosevelt Reporter. He was a straight shooter then and his reputation as a tough but fair businessman has improved with age.GO NATIONALS, WE LOVE YOU!!!!!

Posted by: Alex Stouck | May 3, 2006 5:16 PM

What hasn't been mentioned here is the prospoal by the city council to force the good folks at comcast to start showing the Nat's games or face the threat of their operating license being revoked.

Let's see if the council stands firm on that...

Posted by: Lee | May 3, 2006 5:20 PM

Gee, wonder if the Lerners could now let the people of DC off the hook and kick in some of their own money like Cooke and Pollin and build the staduim themselves. Or they just going to suck the millions out of one of America's poorest cities to benefit themselves.

Posted by: TC in DC | May 3, 2006 5:27 PM

Annandale Mark, I hope you're right about it being a "different time" now, but Barry and Orange are not the only ones who didn't get the memo. For a hoot (or a cry), check out -- it's a local activist's site devoted to exposing the outrageous race-baiting by a key staffer of that friend-of-baseball, Adrian Fenty. Hmmmmm...

Posted by: Jim in NW | May 3, 2006 5:28 PM

From the list of donations, it looks like the Lerner's generousity is really spread pretty close to their own circle. A bunch of private colleges, a host of private Jewish schools and causes, and a few small contributions to charities that serve a broader population unlike the donor. But that list suggests someone whose insularity affects their charity.

I don't think that's a negative judgement. But it really does seem to me that it's the Lerner's who need to come out of their compound and build some bridges to the rest of the District.

After all, Pollin built his housing in all neighborhoods of D.C., not just in suburban fields. He spent a lifetime in D.C. communities, and the Lerners have some catching up to do.

Posted by: DC | May 3, 2006 5:54 PM

I love it -- MLB selects an owner with deep ties to the metropolitan area and the idiots who live in this city still find a way to s--- all over him and still get in a few digs on the stadium deal in the process. All the while we're losing sight of the massive economic benefits this team AND the stadium will provide the city. And let'ssprinkle in some race baiting while we're at it.

In the words of Marion Barry, "Get over it."

I have lived in this city my entire life -- 34 years -- and this is the first time I've gotten so sick of it that I'm thinking about moving out. This city, it's racist inhabitants and leaders (both black and white), and its misguided polices can all go suck eggs.

Posted by: Glover Park | May 3, 2006 7:54 PM

Get off your high horse. While DC might be picking up the bill for the stadium, the main reason why the stadium and the team might be profitable is the potential revenue from the suburbanites you seem so eager to silence. How far do you think the Nationals would go if they only relied on the money of DC residents? Seriously, you do realize that one of the suburbanites you seem so eager to bash now owns DC's team? Perhaps instead of acting like a jackass to anyone from the suburbs who expresses an opinion, you should embrace people like 22042, whose money will be needed if you hope to have the next Camden Yards instead of the next Titanic in Anacostia.

Posted by: Former NoVA, current DC resident | May 3, 2006 8:52 PM

You miss the point.. if suburbanites want to support the team that's great and that's their decision. But they have no say in how the team, the stadium or anything else should be paid for. That's a fundamental distinction that it seems you failed to grasp.

Posted by: Glover Park | May 3, 2006 9:01 PM

Buddy, read the latest census figures, you could not be any further from the truth, your comment was this

"Or they just going to suck the millions out of one of America's poorest cities to benefit themselves."

Sorry to disappoint but this city is actually getting quite wealthy...

Posted by: KG | May 3, 2006 10:01 PM

The Lerners just opened up the atlas and discovered Washington opposed to Montgomery and Fairfax Counties. Let's hope they emerge from their temples with a broad-based embracing of the diversity that composes this metropolitan area.

Posted by: The Honest Truth | May 3, 2006 10:47 PM

The Moneychangers take mucho dinero out of this area, but how much have they returned. The Lerner Family foundation pales in comparison to what others have done. See Cafritz, see Polin, see Meyer, for those which have given in a measure of what they have gained. Old Man Lerner gets one last plum. Let us all hope that he has a modicum of grace and generosity now that he's on the front pages.

Posted by: No Problemo | May 3, 2006 10:50 PM

You miss the point. DC funding the stadium is akin to a kid who has a part time job, yet still relies on allowance from his parents (Congress and the American taxpayer) buying a car. And the worst part is, the clueless poor kid just got cheated out of his part time job money. With an owner now in place this gives YOU nothing except the knowledge that you just got taken to the cleaners by Major League Baseball. If you need to take that anger out on suburbanites, feel free, but perhaps baseball awarded the team to DC, knowing full well that its inept government would cave to the majority of MLB's demands.

If you want your $611 million blackmail fee to possibly return any money to your city, you should learn to respect the suburbanites who will pour money into the new stadium and now own your team (just to clarify for you a suburbanite paid $450 million for the team, while DC taxpayers are paying $611 million for the stadium... yeah, you should be making decisions... HA!). What percentage of season ticketholders (and in the future, luxury box owners) do you think live in DC? How many of the companies that buy boxes will be headquartered in DC? DC has served its purpose for the time being and will only be important in that they do not default on payments for the new stadium. Still, in a couple years I am sure that the Lerners or whoever owns the team at that point will come back to you and sell you on another stadium bill.

The fundamental distinction that you fail to grasp is that you are nothing more than a John to Major League Baseball, who just pimped out the Nationals to you. You have not bought the right to an opinion, you have just bought a new summer home for a team that you do not even own. Without the Nationals, your $611 million is worthless. And don't think that the team cannot find a way to weasel out of the deal if it sees fit in a few years (see: Davis, Al; Modell, Art; Senators, Washington I and II; and Clippers, LA), you are deluding yourself. Lerner, a suburbanite, owns the team, while all you are left with is the burden of paying for a new stadium that will only be worth its steep price if money flows in from the surburbs.

So, in reality, it is the suburbanites and not you, whose opinions matter. Finding out what it will take to get the big money spenders in Montgomery and Fairfax into Nats games is far more improtant than the opinion of DC taxpayers at this point. Thanks for the new stadium, but now it is time to face the fact that the pimp has taken all of your money and could care less about your future opinions (see: Marion Barry on minority ownership).

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 1:17 AM

Oh May 4, you feel so superior don't you? Please allow me to repeat my point since you too have missed it: if you want to be a suburbanite and support the team, that's fine. But you have no right to pass judgement on the merits of the stadium and how it is paid for. This is a city matter, and until you move into the city and start paying your freight to operate the city, then shut yer pie hole.

For the record, I'm not in love with the deal that was cut, but I prefer to take a long term view of all this and recognize the economic benefits that a stadium will provide to the city and as my DC property values will be appreciating nicely your suburban taxes spiral out of control.

Still feeling superior?

Posted by: Glover Park | May 4, 2006 9:11 AM

The Lerners are going to be great owners.
As for council members and others who say they have no ties to the District:They grew up here, are from here and are native
Washingtonians unlike most of their critics.

Go Nats.

Posted by: Nat Nut | May 4, 2006 11:46 AM

I thought you meant the Texas Rangers when you were talking about rich owners not quite good enough to win...maybe thats just me.

I did enjoy the Nationals first year,I don't see the problem with Frank Robinson tho-but I can't call myself an expert on the game. When I noticed the manager at all it was when he did something right that accentuated the team spirit, couldn't say if he ever left a pitcher in too long...maybe you can't either except in hindsight.

Posted by: Nat newbie | May 4, 2006 1:25 PM

"Fans respect Pollin because he paid for his own arena, because he's committed to this city in a big way"

Well Fisher, that is more than we can say about Lerner. And for all the suburbanites that are supposedly payiong for this stadium, why aren't you coming to the games? Every time I see a highlight of a Nationals game, the stadium is half empty. Even Fisher called the attendance "light". And don't go blaming it on the stadium either. The Redskins could pack RFK for a month of Sundays. And don't blame it on TV. True baseball fans and anyone else interested can easily find out when the games are. And please don't blame the weather or the day time games. I am simply tired of these excuses. Baseball is a tired sport. It has seen its better days. It no longer draws the elite athletes. They have all gone to play basketball and football. That is why the stadium is half full.

To Glover Park:
There is no free lunch. That is rule #1 in economics. Businesses don't accept taxes without passing it on. They will raise prices accordingly to make up for it.

Posted by: Nathan Boggs | May 4, 2006 4:35 PM

To Nathan Boggs: you're also forgeting the basics of pricing and supply and demand. If businesses pass on the cost to consumers, they have the option of not paying those higher prices and taking their business elsewhere.

And my basic point remains as true as ever: there is no public money going into the stadium at the expense of other priorities.

Posted by: Glover Park | May 4, 2006 5:35 PM

Re food at Lerner Park: Embassy Row Food Court --- snacks and more from the world at large! Especially Hispanic and Asian, African and American. Special events each week featuring a foreign embassy, entertainment and food.
No other baseball franchise can do this with Washington's authenticity and flair...and it will draw and be talked about.

Make the Nationals' park disticntive by drawing from Washington's unique position as a World Capitol. Embtrace diversity and make it fun.

Posted by: joe chase | May 5, 2006 12:57 PM

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