The late Joe Robbie put up his own money and built a stadium for the Miami Dolphins, which he owned at that time. Then he reaped the financial benefits to which he was entitled. Mr. Robbie practiced the principle of capitalism, which the United States holds up to the world as the ideal way to do business.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) proposes that taxes -- in the form of a gross receipts tax on large businesses and a concessions tax -- provide most of the money for a stadium from which the owners of the ballclub would reap the primary benefits, despite an annual stadium rent payment to the city. Any financial benefits to the District's taxpayers are questionable. What Mr. Williams proposes is a kind of anti-capitalism: the illegitimate child of a marriage of capitalism and a perverted form of socialism.
The assessment that changes are needed at the Navy Yard Metro station and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's Southeastern Division Bus Garage is correct ["Stadium Analyses Put Cost Far Higher," front page, Nov. 14]. But the changes could be made for significantly less than the $100 million estimated.
While the narrow station platform constrains the capacity of the Navy Yard station, the proposed, expensive expansion of the existing mezzanine inside the station isn't necessary. Instead, an expanded and possibly covered plaza could be built outside the station entrance at much less cost.
Baseball is a fair-weather game played in the late spring, summer and early fall, when inclement weather isn't much of a factor. So being outside generally wouldn't be uncomfortable for waiting passengers. Also, waiting on the surface might encourage passengers to avail themselves of nearby restaurants and pubs before boarding the trains, contributing to the local economy and spreading out the transit demand.
As for the bus garage facilities, rather than seeking to relocate these facilities, a bus garage and parking area could be incorporated into joint developments where the developer would pick up most if not all of the cost of the relocation.
In the late 1990s, the joint development of the Southeastern Division was considered but shelved in large part because of market forces. However, much has changed in the area since then, with the waterfront stadium proposal in concert with the emerging development along M Street, the construction of the new Department of Transportation headquarters, and the planned residential and office development along the Anacostia waterfront -- all projects that would enhance the viability of joint development at the Metro sites.
Let's not blow this opportunity to get baseball back in Washington by inflating project costs unnecessarily.
RICHARD J. BOCHNER
The writer was manager of facilities planning at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from 1988 to 1999.
A key factor in the hopes for economic growth spurred by a new sports stadium was overlooked in Seattle when Safeco Field was built across the street from the baseball team's prior home, the Kingdome, now the site of the new football stadium. As such, the new ballpark is not in a new neighborhood. Rather it is an extension of an area closer to downtown that is already served by restaurants, upscale bars, lofts, etc. (Pioneer Square, six blocks away). To believe that moving one block would spark redevelopment was folly.
The District's plan appears to be closer to Denver's situation than Seattle's. One thing Seattle did get right was that the field looks out toward the Seattle skyline and water; Coors Field in Denver has its back to downtown and looks out toward nothing.
The District's new stadium should take advantage of a great backdrop.
I have advice for those who oppose taxpayer funding of a new baseball stadium in the District: Give up. You will pay for the stadium regardless.
That's how it happened in Seattle. After the city's voters defeated a referendum to finance a new baseball park, the state legislature declared an "emergency" and approved it anyway. By the time a vote for a football stadium came around, the skids were greased by a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign financed by the owner of the Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle never stood a chance. Since then, basics such as street repairs, social services and schools have been starved for funds. Tourists enjoy a 30 percent rental-car tax, and the sales tax on a restaurant meal is 9.3 percent. Meanwhile, the neighborhoods near the stadium are as desolate as ever.
But, hey, Seattle has two shiny new ballparks. Last summer, I took four family members to a Mariners game. Five seats cost $275. Two beers, two hot dogs and some chips came to nearly $30. It reminded me of the tale of the farmer found laughing after a tornado carried away everything he owned. Asked what he was laughing at, he replied, "The completeness of it all."
The powers that be in your Washington want a baseball team, but they will not be paying for it. The average citizens will.