In his Sept. 23 Sports column, Michael Wilbon argued that a baseball stadium in the District would fuel an economic renaissance. It will do no such thing.

Cleveland built a downtown stadium in 1993, and the Census Bureau recently ranked that city as the poorest in the nation, with 31.3 percent of its population below the poverty level.

Detroit, which Mr. Wilbon cited as a stadium success story, ranked third-poorest in this survey.

Mr. Wilbon also argued that MCI Center is evidence of the power of sports and entertainment venues to revitalize an area. Again, untrue. The main driver of this region's prosperity is its abundance of well-paying jobs. In a Sept. 1 report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the Washington area has the lowest unemployment rate among the nation's large urban areas.

Stadium proponents say that businesses, not homeowners, will pay for a stadium. But a stadium tax on business will be used by businesses as an argument against new levies, which will hurt schools and other essential services. There is no question that a baseball stadium would provide many popcorn-selling jobs, but only by mortgaging the District's future.

PATRICK THIBODEAU

Washington

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The proposed site of a new baseball stadium offers a terrific possibility ["D.C. Offers Waterfront Baseball Stadium," front page, Sept. 22].

Home plate should be in the southeast corner of the site, and left field should be open, with a view down South Capitol Street to the U.S. Capitol. What a sight that would be as the ball rises into the air against the backdrop of the Capitol. A home run could be called "going dome."

ANDREW TANTILLO

Washington

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How sad that planning for Washington's waterfront is being centered on baseball. What happened to the National Capital Planning Commission's "Legacy" plan, which would have put the Supreme Court about where the towering stadium would rise?

What happened to the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, which made no provision for a waterfront stadium? Where would stadium parking go?

Clearly, the baseball fantasy trumps rational thought and long-neglected neighborhood needs in our city. No wonder people question the mayor's priorities.

DORN C. McGRATH JR.

Washington