League of Fans

Founded by Ralph Nader, League of Fans is a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being.

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League of Fans Urges DC Residents to Continue Stadium Fight!

Listen to the NO DC Taxes for Baseball radio ad (Windows Media Player)

December 9, 2004

The final DC Council vote on the outrageous deal for a half-billion dollar-plus publicly-funded stadium is next Tuesday, December 14. Initial council approval was given on November 30 despite escalating costs for the project and an overwhelming majority of District residents opposed to the use of public funds to build a stadium.

However, the vote did not pass with a majority. The 6-4 vote with 3 abstentions preserved an initial win for the bill while maintaining at least the pretense that the council is keeping the pressure on the mayor to renegotiate with Major League Baseball.

But MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said there would be no renegotiation: "We have made a deal. Certainly, you have every right to expect that we'll live up to our end of the deal. So, you know, a deal's been made, and I'm satisfied that the deal that both sides agreed to will take place."

Now come reports of a conflict of interest regarding the stadium deal. According to today's Washington Post, $3.7 million in city money will go to pay for Major League Baseball's chosen stadium consultant. The leading candidate is the International Facilities Group, a consulting firm run by Michael Reinsdorf, son of Jerry Reinsdorf, head of baseball's relocation committee, and MLB's chief negotiator on the stadium deal.

"That's absolutely worrying," said councilmember Adrian Fenty, noting that the city would already be on the hook for $6.1 million for its own project manager. "It just runs contrary to basic common sense. Why in the world would we pay for their consultants?"

Meanwhile, a group of academic experts who study sports stadium deals throughout the nation issued an open letter (PDF) today to the DC Council, stating that the cityís proposed stadium plan is one of the most financially disadvantageous to the host city and most generous to Major League Baseball of any they have studied.

The researchers -- Richard Eckstein of Villanova, Kevin Delaney of Temple, and David Karen of Bryn Mawr -- conclude that the deal before the DC Council "is certainly the most unequal agreement in the most recent wave of new stadium construction that began in 1997."

League of Fans asks DC residents to contact councilmembers Patterson, Mendelson, and Cropp (the three members who abstained from the first vote) and tell them you want them to vote NO on the mayor's deal -- because that is the only way to renegotiate a better deal with MLB.

Kathy Patterson: (202) 724-8062, [email protected]
Linda Cropp: (202) 724-8032, [email protected]
Phil Mendelson: (202) 724-8064, [email protected]

1) MLB has made it clear that "a deal is a deal" and they want no changes. That shows that they are insensitive to DC's legitimate financial concerns. It also means that MLB will not offer meaningful concessions between now and Dec 14. Cropp, Mendelson and Patterson should vote no because the deal has not gotten any better.

2) The notion that the mayor will go back to MLB and get concessions after the 2nd vote is worse than naÔve. The only way to get real changes is in the legislation.

3) We want the Council to know that voting no on the mayor's plan is not saying no to baseball. It is saying no to the deal Williams worked out without Council input -- and the start of an improved negotiation with MLB. It is an insult to the democratic process to say that the Council must accept the deal without changing anything.

Thank you for your continued energy. The Fight Is Not Over!

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For more on the DC stadium battle, visit NO DC Taxes for Baseball and League of Fansí DC Action page.

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Founded by Ralph Nader, League of Fans is a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being.

To find out more about League of Fans, visit www.leagueoffans.org or write to [email protected]