The Cost of Baseball in D.C.

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Dec 13, 2005 8:56 AM

I love it as much as the next gal, but who didn't see this coming?

The price of a D.C. baseball stadium complex along the Anacostia River has risen to $667 million, $78 million more than the city's budget of $589 million, according to a new official study released yesterday that could mean city leaders will be forced to seek the additional funding from the federal government and private developers.

Ok, but please, Mayor Williams, please for goodness' sake don't quote "Field of Dreams" again. That just makes the ride you're taking us on more humiliating.

"We're not in a cornfield in Iowa, but we're building [the ballpark] and they have come," Williams said of the developers, playing off the famous line from the movie "Field of Dreams."

Urrggh, you did it. It's like a punch in the gut every time you do that-- a punch in the gut on top of the tax hikes and the eminent domain takings and the floating price tag.

The headline on this story is "Stadium Pricetag to Rise By Millions." I'm willing to bet (a lot) it's not the first time we'll see it between now and '08-ish, when the stadium is due to be finished, and most of the funding will be "public," which is a nice way for Mayor Williams to say "someone else's, so I don't have to worry about it too much."

I think it's ridiculous that cities fund the building of stadiums, when professional sports could and should pay for such projects. I don't think the economic benefits are worth the costs (a Cato paper on that, here). And the fact that professional sports teams play city officials all over the country against each other in the World Series of Subsidies every time they make a move means the taxpayer burden will only get higher.

Maybe the Green Bay Packers model is the way to go?

It's something to think about. I've loved watching the Nationals play here but I wonder how much it will end up costing me. At some point, it might be cheaper for the city of D.C. to fly us all down to Atlanta once or twice a year to watch the Braves play. And if you think it's not important to anyone outside of D.C., check out this nugget:

The city would seek contributions from the federal government and private developers for the infrastructure costs, he added.

Thanks in advance for the "contributions," everyone.