League of Fans’ testimony against bill to publicly-subsidize a baseball stadium in Washington DC
Director of League of Fans
Before the Committees on Finance and Revenue, and Economic Development
District of Columbia City Council
October 28, 2004
Chairpersons Evans and Brazil and Members of the Joint Committees my name is Shawn McCarthy, thank you for the opportunity to speak today regarding the “Ballpark Omnibus Financing and Revenue Act of 2004.” I work in Ralph Nader’s office as director of a sports reform project called League of Fans.
Among many issues with which we are concerned, are those regarding how city governments deal with sports franchise owners when they make demands for new publicly-funded stadiums for private profit.
Opponents of Mayor Williams plan welcome Major League Baseball to the District. It would be an entertainment option many would choose to take advantage of. But entertainment should be given the first right to survive the tests of a free market, not the right to demand and receive $440 million in corporate welfare, nor the right to kick people out of their homes and businesses through eminent domain, nor the right to escape paying their fair share of taxes back to the general fund for the benefit of the city.
Those that are here to testify in opposition to this plan, though not backed by the wealth of those few who stand to benefit financially from a publicly-financed stadium, are instead backed by a wealth of good and solid information with which proponents of this plan cannot compete. Mayor Williams and some members of the D.C. Council have been completely ignoring every piece of independent, academic, economic analysis of public financing of stadiums. Virtually every independent study concludes that public financing of stadiums can not be justified on economic grounds. Yet we still have officials from the Mayor’s office, with full knowledge that what they argue cannot be backed-up by solid evidence, saying that a publicly-funded stadium “will generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue for our schools, hospitals and social services.”
While this misinformation is being pumped out by the Mayor’s stadium “war room,” the contract between Major League Baseball and the District requires the stadium bill to be fast-tracked through the D.C. Council. Why is the Council so quick to respond to the wants and demands of a monopoly known for abusing its power instead of responding to the real needs of District residents? The people of this city feel marginalized, and for good reason. But we are determined not to allow our public servants to let an entertainment corporation control the purse strings of our city so they can profit at the expense of public necessities.
I would prefer to cheer for a team that I can respect as part of the community, instead of to despise one for acting above it — one that chooses to contribute to the community, instead of take from it. I fear that instead of watching the Grays, Senators or Nats play at RFK or a privately-financed facility, the District will host a team that would be more aptly named the “Washington Freeloaders” play at a place that would be appropriately named “D.C. Taxpayer Stadium.”
I’d like to thank the Joint Committees again for the opportunity to speak today.
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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More Episodes on Apple Podcasts; Spotify; Google Podcasts; PocketCasts; & Anchor
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon