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Redeveloping Southeast With a Stadium

Tuesday, October 26, 2004; Page A24

Some critics of the $440 million proposal for a baseball stadium along the Anacostia River waterfront in the District favor a refurbished Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium instead. No doubt they will be out in force when the D.C. Council holds a hearing Thursday on this issue.

But my recent research on the regional economic benefits of major league stadiums found that the only place that a stadium makes economic sense is in or near a downtown. That is where a stadium is most likely to lead to an improvement in local and regional income.

(Part Of The Proposed Anacostia Site/Marvin Joseph -- The Washi)

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Other locations actually can lead to economic blight. For example, RFK Stadium, opened in 1961, has not promoted economic development in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Stadiums must be tourist destinations, not just hangouts for sports fans. That is why locating the stadium along the Anacostia waterfront -- which is envisioned as a major redevelopment area, is near a Metro station and is not far from the downtown tourist area -- makes more sense than refurbishing RFK.



The writer is director of Virginia Tech's urban affairs and planning program in Alexandria.

The Washington area lost a huge opportunity when Jack Kent Cooke decided to build his new football stadium in suburban Maryland. The results were traffic jams, parking disasters and a stadium lacking in character.

Now we have a chance to build a baseball stadium that would be the foundation of a new waterfront development. A soccer stadium across the river with a footbridge connecting the two anchor facilities, a boardwalk with shops and restaurants, office space, and new housing would change the character of the city in a positive way. A development of this scale would bring many full-time jobs and tax revenue to the area.

Baltimore's Inner Harbor, with its baseball and football stadiums, has become a destination for entertainment, sports, business and dining. The prime central location, combined with excellent architectural design for both stadiums, mass transit and parking, have led to the revitalization of a distressed area.

Although I live in Northern Virginia, I think a ballpark there would have created the same kind of traffic mess that plagues the Redskins. I am excited about the location for the new D.C. baseball team, the Metro access and the potential for creating a waterfront destination.



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