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Cropp Stadium Plan Lacks Council Votes

Graham said late yesterday that he was still talking with the administration about conditions he wants set in exchange for his support of the mayor's package. For example, he is seeking a guarantee that the projected excess from the gross-receipts tax would "immediately" be committed to improving the city's libraries. Graham said he also wants legislation to firmly establish a maximum investment limit in the stadium project of an estimated $500 million for the District -- with the understanding that baseball would be responsible for anything exceeding that.

"I am very concerned about the open-ended nature of the costs of the mayor's proposal," he said. "There is a blank-check quality to it that makes me very uncomfortable."

"I don't think right now I have the votes," Linda Cropp says. (The Washington Post)

Referring to Cropp's plan, Graham echoed a criticism voiced by the administration. "While there are substantial cost savings, the downside to Linda's proposal is that it does not connect the stadium to any meaningful economic development, nor will it help other city priorities," he said.

Allen, who has been generally supportive of the mayor's plan, said over the weekend that she was weighing both proposals.

Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4), an outspoken critic of the mayor's plan and of using public funds for a stadium, said he opposes Cropp's idea.

"Quite honestly, they are basically the same proposals, just different sites. What it comes down to is choosing between a $450 million publicly financed stadium and a $350 million publicly financed stadium," Fenty said. "Major League Baseball is a collection of wealthy owners who can pay for this themselves. I'm hearing the same constituent feedback on Cropp's proposal as on the mayor's: that there are better priorities for taxes."

Council member Sharon Ambrose (D), who represents Ward 6, where both proposed stadium sites are, said she was talking with residents who live near RFK Stadium, as well as with some of her colleagues. Her support of the mayor's plan was intact, at least for the time being, she said.

"I think that he will try to frame the debate within the context of how baseball fits into his overall vision of the city," Bender said. "He wants to pull back from the details for about five minutes and set this thing in the larger context, and look at the city from a hot-air balloon."

Cropp said that she planned to provide a televised rebuttal after Williams's remarks tonight.

She also said the mayor has unfairly suggested that she changed her position on his stadium package. Cropp said it was Williams who altered his proposal.

Under the mayor's revised plan, businesses with the highest gross receipts would pay $48,000 -- up from $28,000 -- and the amount collected from businesses would rise by $2 million annually, to $26 million. In addition, that $2 million would go to a community fund instead of paying off stadium bonds, as businesses were told in the original proposal. Mayoral aides have said that some changes were made at the request of business leaders.

"This is like negotiating $28,000 for a car to be paid out over a certain number of years. But when it comes time for me to sign the document, the price of the car has escalated to $48,000 a year and they have added another six years or so during which I have to pay that," Cropp said.

"I would not handle my business like that, and I would not handle the citizens' business like that," she added.

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