I know I'm ready for major-league baseball here, and I think Washington is too. More than 75 of my colleagues -- including such local representatives as Stan Parris, Michael Barnes, Steny Hoyer and D.C. Delegate Walter Fauntroy -- agree with me, as evidenced by a letter we recently co-signed asking the baseball commissioner, Peter Ueberroth, for an expansion team.
Since the Senators played their final game here in the fall of 1971, the people of this area -- especially the young people whose lives can be so enriched growing up with the game's sights and sounds -- haven't had the benefit of a major-league team. Sure, we've adopted the Baltimore Orioles. But with the kinds of life styles and work habits most of us have, it is awfully hard to find time to go all the way to Memorial Stadium, especially on a week night.
We need our own team here in our own town, and I believe we can support it. The facts are there to make a big-league franchise work.
First, there are the raw numbers of population, income and buying power. Standing on their own, these facts are strong. But compared with other cities competing for a baseball franchise -- Denver, Tampa and St. Petersburg, Miami, Indianapolis, New Orleans -- they are even more compelling. For instance, our area's metropolitan population of more than 3.3 million is almost twice as large as the next largest "competitor," the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Our area's median family income is nearly $28,000, the fourth highest in the nation and more than $4,000 per family per year ahead of any competitor. And buying power in the D.C. area is more than double that of any franchise bidder.
In addition, there is D.C.'s strong media market, with its command of top dollar for advertising. As we're learning so painfully with a threat of a second strike in four years, baseball is a business, and adequate revenue is critical. Tourism is also important, as the bulk of our 15.7 million annual visitors come in the spring and summer, during baseball season.
Finally, there's our clean and efficient public transportation network, with a subway stop right at RFK Stadium. Metro delivers Redskins fans from downtown or the suburbs in minutes to the stadium door, and it could do the same for the fans of our new baseball team.
But beyond these factors, there's a case to be made that baseball -- so much a part of the fabric of American life -- should also be part of daily life in our nation's capital. As a famous baseball announcer once said, "There's nothing so truly American as hitting one out of the ballpark." The home runs in this town too often come from a president's scoring a political triumph or from a committee chairman's steering through a major piece of legislation. They should really come from the crack of the bat of a young outfielder or e long, lazy swing of an aging first baseman.
Along with the rest of the metropolitan area, I miss those real home runs. And I hope they will return -- in the bottom of the first inning -- on Opening Day 1987.