The $100 million dollar question: "Is Washington Ready for Big League Baseball?"
Apparently they weren't in 1960, when Calvin Griffith waved bye-bye after 59 years in the nation's capital (since 1901), and moved the team to Minnesota. The same can be said for 1971 when Washington's expansion team did the Texas Two-Step all the way to Arlington (Texas, not Virginia). The reason? According to owner Bob Short, "We didn't get enough support."
Have times changed? Can Washington support a major league team -- more specifically -- a National League team?
YES! YES! A HUNDRED MILLION TIMES YES!!!
Let's let the facts prove our point.
In the 1950s-1960s, the metropolitan D.C. area numbered between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 people. Today, nearly 4,000,000 people are within convenient reach of RFK Stadium. . . .
In the so-called "good ol' days," it was tough getting to Griffith/DC Stadium. Today, Washington enjoys the most modern, high-speed subway system in the United States. . . .
Five years ago, in an effort to show American and National League owners that the nation's capital was indeed ready for big league baseball (again), 15,000 fans paid $567 each for season tickets to a non-existent team. $9,000,000 worth of season tickets. Not pledges! But real money deposited into real banks! Guaranteed attendance from day one -- 1.3 million fans (add to this the walkups and attendance is over 2 million!). Solid, grass-roots support. (Does this indicate interest? You bet it does!) . . .
Remember when Washington had baseball? Those were the years of "The business of Washington is government." Well, those days are gone forever! Today the area booms with a diversity of thriving businesses, contributing to a per capita personal income that's a full 25 percent higher than the next city without major league baseball. . . .
As they earn, so they spend. Washington area residents lead the nation in consumer spending per household, with the next closest non-baseball city barely making the top 20. . . .
Washington is one of the country's leading tourist centers, with almost 20 million visitors pouring more than $7.6 billion into the local economy annually. Unlike markets whose tourism peaks in the winter -- spring and summer are Washington's prime period, making Major League Baseball an excellent attraction for tourist dollars. . . .
RFK Stadium is a ball park originally built for baseball. With a capacity of 47,178, it's comparable to the majority of other major league baseball stadiums. For the past five years, RFK has been subjected to an intensive maintenance program. Over $750,000 a year has been spent from current revenues to keep facilities up-to-date and thoroughly modern. . . .The D.C. government has already set aside $13.7 million for major renovations and improvements. . . .
RFK is served directly by the Metro. This modern, high-speed subway carries more than 15,000 football fans to and from each Redskin home game, depositing them at the Stadium/Armory Station. Metrorail serves both the city and the suburbs, reaching out to baseball fans everywhere -- from Northern Virginia to Prince George's and Montgomery counties.
Washington's population of 3,729,000 -- -approaching 4,000,000 -- makes it the sixth largest market in the country, a full one-third larger than the majority of cities now supporting major league baseball. . . .
Business sense! Common sense! It just makes good sense to have the Nation's Capital as the showcase for the national pastime!
Charles Brotman, President
Charles Brotman & Assoc.
D.C. Baseball Commission
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