The District fought long and hard for a baseball team and deserves one, but it also deserves a rational stadium deal that does not threaten the city's finances or unfairly burden its residents.
The arrangement for construction of a baseball stadium should be reformed so that the team owner:
* Pays the first $100 million of construction costs, with the city paying the rest of the costs up to $535 million as promised.
* Is responsible for any other cost overruns beyond the $635 million as described. The District's generous commitment should not be expanded or exceeded.
* Should be based in the District to be responsive to local interests. Further, the local interest should be reflected in the substantial use of local and minority contractors for stadium construction, operations and concessions.
The D.C. stadium deal is possibly the most generous ever offered by a locality to satisfy a sports league's conditions for placing a team. Most recent stadium construction arrangements have required substantial ownership participation in funding, and the new owners of the Nationals should not be free of this obligation.
Finally, D.C. taxpayers should be first in line to take advantage of the opportunities that justify using taxes to build the stadium. The minimum requirement should be to allow competitive bidding for all stadium-related operations.
ARTHUR D. BERNSTEIN
The writer is executive director of United Sports Fans of America.