D.C. Baseball Stadium Cost Could Exceed $700 Million

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Top District officials discussed new estimates for a baseball stadium project along the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington yesterday and determined that costs could reach more than $700 million, which is more than $100 million beyond the previous forecast of the city's chief financial officer.

Officials stressed that the new estimates are preliminary and take into account all potential costs, including $41 million for underground parking, $20 million to upgrade the Navy Yard Metro station and $12 million to rebuild nearby roads. They added that some of the work might not have to be paid for by the city or done at all.

The new cost figures were discussed briefly in a meeting with Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and others yesterday afternoon. Accounts of the meeting varied.

A source with knowledge of the discussions said the estimates reached $714 million. That source, who had seen a document detailing the costs, spoke on condition of anonymity because Gandhi is working on a report of new estimates and the numbers are not final.

Vince Morris, spokesman for Williams, disputed that figure.

"The $700 million doomsday budget is not ours and does not reflect reality," Morris said. "We told the citizens of the District that we'd build a gem of a ballpark on time and on budget, and that's what we intend to do."

Gandhi's previous estimate was $535 million for the stadium project, plus $54 million in financing fees, for a total of $589 million.

Gandhi confirmed that he met with Williams and Evans yesterday but declined to comment on specifics. His office is working on an analysis of how much it would cost to build a stadium at the waterfront location vs. the cost of building it adjacent to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, which some council members have said would be cheaper.

"I can understand that because of Hurricane Katrina, costs have changed" for construction materials, Gandhi said. "What we're doing now is working at those estimates. We hope that pretty soon we'll have the numbers."

The source said the new estimates from Gandhi's office include $58 million to cover financing fees associated with stadium construction bonds, which the city plans to pay using revenue generated by taxes from Washington Nationals games this past season and interest on the bond money before it is spent next year.

The council approved spending $535 million on the stadium project last year and will not approve any new funds, said Evans, chairman of the council's Finance and Revenue Committee.

"None of these numbers change the 535 million-dollar number," he said. "That's still the number."

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