This morning in Northeast Washington, people are gathering to celebrate the opening of the new Metro station at New York Avenue, the foundation of the District's economic development initiative for the area north of Massachusetts Avenue, known as NoMa, that has struggled for many years.
It was this bold initiative that helped persuade my company, XM Satellite Radio, to choose the NoMa neighborhood for the site of our headquarters, rather than a location in Virginia or Maryland.
Today a large group of us will be sitting on the podium representing the public and private sectors who worked together to make the new Red Line station a reality, because we all recognized how vital the station was to the economic development of the area.
The city would be well-served if people on both sides of the current, bitter debate over the Major League Baseball stadium considered the lessons learned from the NoMa revitalization, which was built on a spirit of collaboration.
The development of the NoMa area had its share of challenges, the least of which was how much burden should be placed on the business community through a $25 million bond financing to complement other funding from the city and federal government. Ultimately a solution was found that benefited everyone, and the neighborhood has been transformed.
When we first toured our building, there were drug traffickers on the corner and bullets on the roof. It was not a place you wanted to be after dark. Today XM is just one of several companies that have located here and helped revive the neighborhood.
Outside my office window I can also see the construction site for the new home of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and its 1,200 employees. The ATF, like XM, made its relocation to the area contingent on the Metro station.
Clearly the new Metro stop has been a major catalyst for growth in one of the District's poorest neighborhoods, bringing more jobs, businesses and now train riders to the area.
The new baseball stadium project, which appears to be leaving the station, holds even greater promise for economic revitalization along the Anacostia waterfront, an area that is more developed today than NoMa was when XM relocated to Northeast D.C.
Several years ago the mayor, the D.C. Council, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and the business sector, led by people such as Doug Jemal, had a vision for the NoMa area, and they took a leap of faith. A similar leap of faith is required with regard to the baseball stadium, because no economic feasibility study can guarantee success (or failure). What is required is that people with the will to make it happen do so, through a public process.
XM knows a little bit about baseball. We recently signed an 11-year, $650 million deal to broadcast Major League Baseball games on our satellite radio service. And although that is a significant investment, we decided that it was the right sports content to add to our service for years to come. We also think a baseball team is the right economic development choice for the District. And we will pay our fair share of the baseball tax to make it happen.
Certainly, it is important and appropriate for us to hold the city's leaders accountable for how the stadium will be funded and how this huge project will be managed. But whether the stadium on the Anacostia waterfront is privately or publicly funded (the latter being the more likely choice), it will be successful only if, once the decision is finally made, the public and private sectors get behind it, as we did with NoMa and MCI Center. These are both fantastic examples of how economic development can, when done in a cooperative manner, transform a neighborhood. We need to bring the same collaborative spirit that made these initiatives a success to the new baseball stadium.
So if you want to see what can happen when the public and private sector collaborate, take a Metro ride to the New York Avenue Station today and take a look at what has happened in my neighborhood.
The writer is president and CEO of XM Satellite Radio.