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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon