The subject of your broken promise is fitting. Those players from Eastern Senior High live in this city and are part of the real District of Columbia, where a pathetic $3 million per year is available for the entire athletic budget for all DC Public Schools (about the same as 14 years ago). By contrast, according to Neil deMause, co-author of Field of Schemes in his testimony before the DC Council, “Even after accounting for spending by any new visitors to the city, the District would be losing 25 to 30 million dollars a year on a stadium, solely to enrich the baseball team’s private owners.”
Just down the street from RFK Stadium, Eastern struggled to field a team, managing with 11 players. They had very little. Old tattered uniforms, and a few bats and balls. As Mr. Nakamura reported:
“During their season, the [Eastern Senior High] Ramblers’ challenges would reflect the neglect and decline of public schools in a city gripped by an economic boom and divided by tensions between rich and poor, black and white. In many ways, the team symbolizes the concerns of residents who opposed spending public money to woo a professional baseball team. They had argued that the city needed to address enormous needs in schools, in the lives of inner-city children.”
Mr. Mayor, answering to Major League Baseball, you launched this stadium boondoggle on the District assuming residents could not distinguish between supporting Baseball, and paying for commercial Baseball’s extravagant demands. You were mistaken. You thought residents would believe the fiction that public money spent on a stadium is money that could not be used for public needs, and that a new stadium would provide major economic benefits for the city. Wrong again.
Such behavior, mixed with the purposely low cost estimates for land acquisition, infrastructure and environmental cleanup for the stadium site, and the recent city auditor’s report detailing contract cronyism within your administration, is leading residents to wonder what exactly is happening behind those closed doors as the stadium scam deepens.
Judging by the planned 60 percent cutback of the Navy Yard Metro expansion, under pressure to secure a pleasing estimate for stadium project costs from the CFO, the cutting of corners and moving of goal posts have already begun. This would eliminate the Metro expansion needed to ensure adequate service to baseball fans and would lead to a transportation nightmare after games. Worse, city planning officials have spun this as a positive for economic development as fans would be crowded outside the stadium, unable to get home after games, and likely to spend more money in and around the stadium out of boredom.
Forgive residents if they are skeptical that the homeowners, property owners and businesses at the proposed stadium site will be treated fairly as you seek to drive them out through eminent domain. Likewise, it is doubtful that an honest and thorough environmental examination will be conducted on the old industrial waterfront setting that may require extensive remediation, but stands in the way of staying within cost estimates and Major League Baseball’s time-line.
From the beginning, you have been much less than forthright during your stadium push. And your broken promise to the Eastern Senior High School baseball team is what District residents have come to expect from their preoccupied, stadium-obsessed leader. A public apology to those players and other District residents is in order, and openness and candor are overdue, before corporate scandals and conflicts of interest spill forth publicly.
Considering how well things are going financially for Major League Baseball at RFK Stadium — with huge profits for Baseball estimated at over $20 million for this season alone — your renunciation of the deal for a new taxpayer-expensive stadium should be forthcoming. Baseball owners can invest their own money in a new stadium if they still feel RFK isn’t good enough.
Let capitalists behave like capitalists.
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