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Accord Reached On New Stadium

"We've negotiated a good deal for the city and persuaded Major League Baseball to concede on many fronts," Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said. (By Andrea Bruce -- The Washington Post)

The Nationals would receive all parking revenue on game days if the garage was limited to 1,225 spaces. But if the city built more parking spaces, the team would collect all game-day parking revenue and the city would keep all non-game-day revenue. This provision is designed to allow the Nationals to select whichever option the team thinks will provide more income, but the team must choose before the first season.

"I don't think that's fresh cash," Graham said. "I don't think this works. My vote's not changing."

But Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), a key baseball booster, said the lease represents a fair deal. "It's the best negotiated deal we could get from Major League Baseball," he added.

City financial officials have said they will not issue construction bonds, and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has said he will not sell the Nationals, until the lease is approved.

"This grueling process at last has an end in sight," Nationals President Tony Tavares said. "I wouldn't characterize anybody at baseball as being happy right now. I would characterize them as being hopeful that this comes to a positive conclusion on the 20th."

Baseball's letter of credit would come from a bank with a rating of at least AA and cover one season of rent. If the money was used, baseball would replenish the reserve account with another credit letter covering a season's rent.

The team would collect all stadium revenue other than non-game-day parking and advertising collected by the city during the 18 days the city could use the stadium for other events. And the Nationals would control all advertising on and inside the stadium and would receive all income from naming rights if a corporate sponsor paid to put its name on the ballpark.

If the stadium did not open by March 2008, the District would be required to pay penalties that could reach millions of dollars, depending on how much revenue the team lost during the delay.

The Nationals would pay an average of $5.5 million in rent during the 30-year lease and donate 8,000 tickets to city charities each season. In a statement, the city said it would control development rights on land outside the stadium and within the 21-acre footprint of the project. The lease agreement states that the Nationals and the city will "jointly evaluate . . . to attract economically viable commercial activity" south and east of the stadium.

The lease also calls for the team to pay the city $1 for every ticket sold over 2.5 million during the season. The team would not be required to pay rent if the stadium was damaged and home games could not be played, except during strikes, lockouts or other labor disputes between the owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

"Nobody won everything, but I think we ended up just fine," said Mark H. Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and negotiator of the lease for the city.

Also yesterday, Williams authorized final designs for the new stadium, which features glass, steel and limestone as its primary components and departs sharply from the popular red-brick throwback ballparks. The city plans to make the designs public shortly after the lease is approved.

The council has scheduled a public hearing on the lease for 10 a.m. Tuesday. Those wishing to speak must register by 5 p.m. Monday.

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