In making the case for the use of incremental taxes to finance a D.C. ballpark, Tom Boswell [Sports, Jan. 17] ignored the well-documented "substitution effect" of sports facilities: A dollar spent at the ballpark is likely to be a dollar diverted from a restaurant, movie theater or concert. Simply put, not all of the taxes generated by the ballpark and surrounding development will in fact be new to the District's economy. Much could simply be tax revenue that was previously generated elsewhere.

But to the extent that baseball fans would be drawn from surrounding jurisdictions into the District for a game, parking, a meal and a souvenir, the District would be importing tax revenue from its neighbors. As Maryland and Northern Virginia shopping malls have been importing D.C. tax dollars for years, maybe it's time the District turned the tables.

-- Patrick L. Phillips


"Baseball's Bounty," the lead article in the Jan. 20 Business section, does not address the threshold question. Why should Mayor Anthony Williams pledge $200 million in public money for a private enterprise that generates jobs that are principally in the minimum-wage category?

The net effect of such employment is to create an additional pool of people without health care benefits, pension plans, 401(k) accounts and adequate income for decent housing, leaving behind a big sucking sound of the profits being drained off and out of the local community.

Supplementary funds to make a stadium viable should come from the people who would directly benefit from a new stadium, namely the owners and occupants of the 36 projects worth $2 billion already built and the 23 projects valued at $2.8 billion that are in progress.

Washington, a world capital, has recently closed a hospital for which there was and is still great need. Washington has hundreds waiting in line for drug treatment, and many who cannot find a bed at night, but yet we have this Orwellian concept that "a sports franchise might provide a sense of community, perhaps pride for many residents, especially if the local team wins." Is this the democracy and free enterprise system we want to export to the world? To use some baseball verbiage, let's call them like we see them. It's nothing more than welfare bounty for baseball.

-- Ernest C. Raskauskas