As a native Washingtonian I have followed the saga of moving the Expos to the District with relish. As a child, I trekked to Baltimore to watch baseball, but I always wanted a team in Washington. Now that dream is coming true.
I now live in San Francisco, three blocks from the home of the Giants. The neighborhood once resembled the part of Anacostia where a ballpark is likely to be built. It is astounding what the ballpark has done for this area and for the city as a whole.
The neighborhood now has restaurants, commercial outlets, grocery stores, housing and a vibrant culture that did not exist before the ballpark's opening in 2000.
Many in Washington claim that the economic effect of a new ballpark in Anacostia will be limited, but if the impressive boom in this once-dilapidated area of San Francisco is any guide, the economic benefits of a new D.C. ballpark will be enormous.
WILLIAM S. GOLDMAN
The return of baseball stirs up a lifetime of memories.
I remember the transistor radio under my pillow and the voices of Shelby Whitfield, Tony Roberts and Ron Menchine. I remember watching games on Channel 9 with Warner Wolf and Ray Scott. I was 11 when I attended the last Senators game with my dad. I begged him to let me go out on the field with everyone else as all hell broke loose. Dad said no. I cried myself to sleep that night.
We journeyed to Baltimore for many years whenever the Texas Rangers came to town, but that interest eventually faded. Once I made a banner and hung it from the mezzanine of Memorial Stadium. It said: "Go Senators!" A big picture of it appeared the next day on the front page of the sports section of the Washington Star.
I remember Dad taking me to Rinaldi's Cleaners near the White House one Saturday morning. That's where the teams' uniforms got laundered. Old Mr. Rinaldi let me try on the jerseys of Frank Howard and Reggie Jackson; the jerseys were bigger than I was.
Memorial Stadium's gone now. So are the Star and Rinaldi's. And, yes, Dad's gone too. But he'll be with us in April when I take his grandchildren to RFK. Baseball's back!
The stadium site for the Expos has problems [Metro, Sept. 26]. First, only one single-lane ramp eastbound from the Southeast Expressway and one single-lane ramp southbound from I-295 lead to the area. Traffic in the opposite direction on these arteries has to go through elaborate loops to reach South Capitol Street. The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge also is nearing the end of its life and is insufficient even for today's traffic. Access to either end of M Street is dismal. Most people going to the new stadium(s) will have to do it on two- or four-lane surface streets, which are at capacity now.
The Navy Yard is the only Metro station within walking distance. It is served only by the Green Line and convenient only to those coming from the direction of Branch Avenue. People from everywhere else will have to transfer at L'Enfant Plaza, Gallery Place or Fort Totten, congesting these stations on game days.
The space southwest of M and South Capitol streets cannot accommodate all the cars for two stadiums, and it is not desirable or politically feasible to tear down housing to the west for parking. The only available space is a quarter-mile to the southeast near Buzzard Point, and that means shuttle buses. Of course, it might be possible to find street parking in the low-cost housing areas that surround the proposed site on three sides.
Lately, D.C. planners have touted the idea of deliberately not providing adequate parking to encourage people to take Metro and then stay after the game to eat and shop, starting a renaissance such as the one that has taken place around MCI Center. But the area around the stadium site lacks the stately old vacant stores and offices of downtown.
To these concerns, add requirements for electricity, water, sewer, drainage (parking lot runoff into the waters feeding the Chesapeake Bay), light, noise, trash, police -- and a large Metrobus facility to be moved.
Touting ambitious projects is easy, but will the politicians address the problems to keep the stadium from becoming something everyone regrets?
A diagram with the Sept. 25 Style story about the new D.C. baseball stadium located the diamond at the northeast corner of the proposed site. The line from home plate to second base runs to the southeast. If the team expects to play day games (as I hope it will), the designers need to rethink this.
Under major league rules, the line from home plate through second base should run east-northeast. In this configuration, during an afternoon game the sun is never within the arc between the two foul lines and therefore is never behind the pitcher as he faces the batter (a solution that staff writer Benjamin Forgey proposed).
It is because of this universal layout that left-handed pitchers are called "southpaws" (their arms are on the south side of the mound) and the centerfield seats are called the "bleachers" (they face west-southwest and remain in the sun throughout the game).
Certain things about baseball must not be tampered with. One of them is the natural rhythm of the sun on a glorious afternoon at the ballpark.
THOMAS W. WHITE
Two new sports stadiums on the Anacostia River may jump-start revitalization of the area, but one major problem remains: The river stinks. Especially after a heavy rain, the river smells like sewage. Who is going to want to inhale that stench for a 90-minute soccer match or a three-hour baseball game?
Not only does the Anacostia smell bad, it doesn't look good. City officials are touting the stadiums as part of their grand vision for the waterfront, but what we see right now includes floating feces and trash.
The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority must get started with its plan to stop as much as 98 percent of the District's raw sewage discharges into the Anacostia. And the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has to overhaul its aging system and actively monitor for discharges. It has been violating federal law for years by allowing millions of gallons of raw sewage to spew into Maryland creeks and streams, which flow into the Anacostia. We are working with several local citizens groups to bring suit against WSSC for violating the Clean Water Act.
Finally, development along the river and throughout the Anacostia watershed must incorporate environmentally responsible design to curb runoff from parking lots, roads and buildings. That runoff carries trash, oil, grease and other junk into the river.
If we don't clean up the Anacostia, development there may not be dead in the water, but it will smell like it.
Clean Water Project
Natural Resources Defense Council
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and others argue that public financing for a $440 million stadium will more than pay for itself [Metro, Sept. 28]. They say local businesses are willing to shoulder much of the financial burden in exchange for a piece of the projected windfall.
Will baseball supporters -- including D.C. government, local businesses, Major League Baseball, the new owner(s) and stadium developers -- also support critical investment in child care, education and anti-poverty initiatives for the District's neediest children? Or will they turn a blind eye to these discouraging facts:
* Thirty percent of the District's children live in poverty.
* More than 1,500 schoolchildren are on waiting lists for child care.
* Eighteen thousand kids will not have access to child care or after-care because money is not in the budget.
* Only 5,000 of the more than 9,200 youths who applied were able to participate in the District's Passport to Work Summer Youth Employment Program this past summer.
* Ninety percent of fourth-graders in the city read below grade level.
We urge the mayor and Major League Baseball to consider an annual contribution of $25 million to support the city's underfunded programs for children and youth and to build at least one recreation center near the proposed stadium site east of the Anacostia River. Such an investment would help break the cycle of poverty, create opportunities, and give hope to children and families in the District for generations.
ANGELA M. JONES
D.C. Action for Children