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20 December 2005

This could be from your champion

A voice from the past wrote the following letter to the Washington Post:
Regarding the Dec. 18 front-page story "Beyond Washington, Most Teams Cover Stadium Overruns; District Agreed to Pay Costs Exceeding Ballpark Budget," about the District's lease deal with the Washington Nationals:

First, when comparing the District with other cities, it is important to keep in mind that stadiums in Seattle, Milwaukee and Phoenix included roofs, a complicated design feature that makes a project trickier. The District's stadium will be simpler.

The Nationals are contributing $5.5 million a year on top of $20 million upfront. Over the 30-year lease, this amounts to $165 million. Almost no other U.S. city is receiving that much rent; some teams pay just $1 million a year in rent.

Also, Camden Yards in Baltimore was 95 percent funded by that city. By comparison, the District's stadium is funded almost exclusively by large businesses, the federal government and ticket holders -- sparing average taxpayers.

Further, many ballparks, such as Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, are isolated. In the District, we've spent a little more to locate the stadium just 10 blocks from the Capitol. We're creating a new neighborhood out of parking lots and warehouses; in a few years a formerly gritty corner of the city will be lively and productive, bringing millions of dollars in sales, property and income tax revenue into the general fund each year.

Finally, most maintenance costs at the stadium are the responsibility of the Nationals, not the city.

Our hope is that the enormous economic benefits that will flow to the city and its residents in years to come will demonstrate the wisdom of this investment.

ROBERT BOBB
City Administrator
District of Columbia
Robert Bobb used to work for the City of Oakland. He left for the District in 2003 to head up their ballpark efforts, among other duties. He's exactly the guy Oakland needs for Wolff's project. Now I know that there are plenty of issues with Bobb's work in Oakland and his letter above has seriously flawed arguments (the large businesses are going to pass the taxes on to consumers, hello!), but I've pointed this out before and I'll say it again: these projects don't get done without a champion. That champion isn't a politician or a person from the private sector. It has to be a bureaucrat who can pull the strings and work the phones to get things done. Considering what may have to be done to get a new A's ballpark built, I wonder how it will get done in any Bay Area city without someone locally filling a similar role.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

In regards to a Champion..."That person isn't a politician or from the private sector." Wouldn't the "City Administrator of DC" be considered a political position? I don't know about Oakland, but I would nominate former SJ Mayor Tom McEnery to be the South Bays champion...he's worked with Lew Wolff in the past and is an ardent supporter of bringing MLB to San Jose. Other candidate's might be Larry Stone or Dave Cortese (both however are current South Bay politicians).

Marine Layer said...

Stone is the South Bay's champion, because even though he's elected, the position he holds has a lot of bureaucratic power. It also doesn't hurt that he's been committed to the cause throughout all of the failed attempts.

Kevin said...

Anyone out there want to assign percentages as to whether the A's:

1) stay in Oakland, and follow thru with their current No. Colosium plan.

2) move to San Jose. This means being granted either exclusive or shared rights to SC, as well as gaining voter approval for a ballpark.

3) move to Fremont, or somewhere else in the BA.

4) pack up and leave the BA entirely.

jrbh said...

I couldn't disagree more about Bobb.

I thought the days of cities being used like cheap hookers by Selig and his evil minions were over; what's happening in D.C. makes those days look like a picnic. That poor city is being brutally used, in the same ways Oakland was by Al Davis, by the way. If I lived there, as much of a baseball fan as I am, I'd never go see a Nationals game again.

Bobb drank the MLB kool-aid when he was here, and now he's doing it in D.C. Thank *god* he's gone.

jrbh said...

My guesses:

Stay in Oakland, at the Coliseum: 25%

Stay in Oakland, at another site: 10%

Move to Fremont: 5%

Move to San Jose: 5%

Move outside the Bay Area: 55%

Marine Layer said...

Sorry, I've promised never to handicap this. Exactly what can anyone base the odds on? Gut instinct? I'll pass.

Oakland Si said...

I'll be honest...I see problems with the Coliseum North site, especially the need to buy out many small businesses and the lack of access to BART. If Wolfe had chosen the south of Coliseum site for this proposal I could take his statements of wanting to stay in Oakland more seriously.

And of course my preferences (downtown, uptown or Jack Londonish ballpark, or even letting the Raiders leave and fixing the Coliseum back up) don't even seem to be part of the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Oakland is currently 10 murders shy of 100 homicides for the year. Black on Black crime is on the rise. Drugs and poverty remain a problem. So yes, I think Oakland can definetely use a "champion," but for a different and more noble cause. In closing, using taxpayer money to fund a multi-million dollar MLB franchise is probably the last thing on Oaklands mind.

swirlinabc said...

Is there a possibility that the A's and the city of Oakland are dragging their feet because they are hedging their bets that the Raiders leave town so that they can convert the Coliseum into a baseball only facility? Somehow, I have that gut feeling that that is the plan for everyone. No property to obtain by eminent domain, no problems with BART access, plenty of parking. What more can you possibly ask for (except a better, sexier location)?