sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The deal to move the Expos to Washington is in extreme jeopardy. Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post says it's dead.

It's a complicated situation, because the D.C. city council actually approved funding measures for a new stadium in Washington's Southeast district.

But councilwoman Linda Cropp inserted an amendment to the stadium-financing bill that stated at least half the cost of any new stadium be built with private funds.

But there's no source of private funding on the horizon. That's a problem.

"If private funds are not found," writes The Washington Times' Eric Fisher, "the entire authorization of the new stadium for the Washington Nationals would be null and void."

The Post's Boswell says the odds that Major League Baseball will find a buyer for the team without full stadium financing from the city are slim and none.

"A stadium in search of hypothetical funding, funding that may never be found, is not a stadium at all. It is just a convenient political lie. The entire purpose of baseball's long search for a new home for the Expos was so the sport copuld sell the team. Who's going to buy a team to play in a stadium that isn't funded and may never be? Nobody. Nobody on earth.

"The question of whether baseball will now jerk its franchise out of Washington is not a question at all. It is a foregone conclusion."

In my view, there are still two options: The Nationals can go ahead and start play in RFK until funding for a D.C. stadium is found or an ownership group in another city is found. But moving a team twice in a short period of time is not a solid option, unless the team takes the field as the Washington Expos. All MLB would have to do is fork out for new hats with a "W" over the bill.

RFK also requires basic renovations for a team to take the field this spring, and the city wouldn't fork over those costs if it knew the team would take off after a year.

The other option is MLB could just fold the Expos. I suspect the only hearts that would be broken are those of fans looking forward to baseball's return to D.C. But their elected representatives killed the deal.


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