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Williams Claims Votes for Stadium

During his cable address, Williams said that if the council approves his plan, it will "create thousands of new jobs, millions in new revenue and revive one of the District's most treasured and tarnished jewels, the Anacostia River."

Baseball officials have told Williams that the league will not put a team in Washington if the stadium proposed for the Anacostia waterfront is not approved, according to people familiar with those discussions. Those sources said Cropp's proposal would kill the deal and end Washington's hopes for a team.

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In a response to Williams's comments on the same cable program last night, Cropp said that a stadium at the RFK site would offer lower costs, equal distance from downtown, easier land acquisition, freedom from possible litigation, better Metro access and more parking spaces, and some economic development.

Proclaiming herself in favor of baseball in the District, Cropp said she also wanted a stadium that is "in the best interest of the citizens I represent." She told council members late yesterday that she planned to unveil a compromise proposal today.

The support of business leaders, including the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Federal City Council, gave Williams a show of strength at his news conference. The officials said they agree with Williams that building a stadium along the Anacostia near the Navy Yard and South Capitol Street would revitalize the area and bring additional resources to the city.

"We have a chance to build an inner harbor like they have in Baltimore right here," developer Douglas Jemal said. "We should make this deal. I stand behind the mayor one thousand percent."

The Washington Baseball Club sent an e-mail to its membership and generated more than 4,000 e-mails to the D.C. Council in support of the mayor's plan, said Executive Director Winston B. Lord.

Cropp has said her primary motivation for offering the plan to build near RFK was that business leaders are concerned that the gross receipts tax will grow if the mayor's stadium plan has significant cost overruns, which are common in such projects.

She met with a half-dozen business leaders yesterday morning. One of them, Jim Rosenheim, chief executive of the Tiny Jewel Box, said the mayor's plan is too risky.

"If there are cost overruns, it could cost me three times as much as what they are saying," he said.

The votes of Allen and Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7) are considered crucial for Williams. Both council members lost their bids for reelection, so their votes have been less easy to predict, mayoral aides said. Allen and Chavous could not be reached for comment.

When asked what she could offer to woo council members, Cropp said, "Certainly not the entire city government and jobs."

Cropp declined to elaborate.

Staff writer Thomas Heath contributed to this report.

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