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 #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
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.
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