League of Fans signs open letter to DC Council Chair Linda Cropp urging a “NO” vote on baseball stadium lease
– The boilerplate 108-page draft lease does not address or mitigate any of the key issues of major financial risk facing our city;
– The draft agreement has no provision for adequate up-front down payment by the sole and exclusive tenant, the new team owner;
– The draft lease does not include a sufficient payment by the new owner to help cover interest and principal;
– And most critically, the draft agreement does not protect our fine city in the event of cost overruns and specification changes to the massive project.
We keep hearing from the Mayor and Mr. Tuohey the fiction that the City will only spend the $535 million that was authorized in last December’s bond legislation — even though there is no legally binding cap on that $535 million. A year ago in September, the number was $435 million. Mr. Gandhi’s numbers keep rising, now standing at $667 million — and that seems to be an understatement, given what we heard at Tuesday’s hearing. What will it be next September?
None of the major cost components of the project are locked down with firm contracts. The stadium construction contract is not yet written. The landowners’ court cases make it uncertain what the final (and higher) purchase price of land will be. Metro and the federal government have not agreed to contribute to any of the significant transportation and infrastructure costs. So just how can the Mayor and Mr. Tuohey possibly say the number will not be $735 million — or more — by next September? One councilmember thinks we could be on our way to spending $1 billion, and the Mayor even mentioned $800 million in passing on the news the other night, and told us not to worry. What guarantees can the Mayor write or has he received in writing? Verbal promises carry no weight legally. How much should any city subsidize a private party without risk sharing and shared contributions written into a contract? What we do know is that D.C. is assured of paying almost 100%, yet we don’t have any legal protections on what the final cost will be. This is an unprecedented giveaway in the annals of urban public financing for sports and entertainment.
If you and the Council vote “yes” on Tuesday, you will send a message that this one-sided deal can surely get even worse in the coming months, that you will continue to “roll with it” by adding tens of millions of dollars of new costs as each new revelation is presented by the Chief Financial Officer. If you vote “no,” it allows time for MLB to see your displeasure, for talks to continue to discuss the addition of financial risk sharing to protect the people of D.C. at the current target site, or to consider a move to the RFK site. The legal cost of buying more time is trivial, even nonexistent. A “no” vote is in no way a vote to kill baseball — unless MLB in a heavy-handed way unilaterally chooses to do so.
If the Council votes “yes,” another sorry situation with new overruns and embarrassments will likely face the city again by springtime. Then DC’s voters next September and November will hold accountable those councilmembers seeking reelection — or higher office — who continue to go down this fiscally irresponsible path.
As concerned D.C. citizens, we urge you to retain an independent party immediately to analyze this draft lease and come up with recommendations for provisions that will protect the city’s taxpayers and fiscal integrity. Then send this dangerous draft lease back for more discussion and further negotiations.
Mary C. Williams, ANC Commissioner 6D03
Lee Glazer, Save Our Schools
Evan Pehrson, Save Our Schools
Ed Delaney, No DC Taxes for Baseball
Shawn McCarthy, League of Fans
Marc Borbely, FixOurSchools.net
Jenefer Ellingston, D.C. Statehood Green Party
Renee L. Bowser, ANC Commissioner 4D02
Anne Anderson, LICSW
Wayne Turner, Ward Six
Richard G. Parker Jr.
Cecil Scott Wiggins
O. “Mac” McCauley, Jr.
Ralph N. Johanson, Jr.
D. Anne Scanley
Gregory R. DuRoss
Laura McGiffert Slover
Alexander M. Padro
Patricia E. Steele
David J. Mallof
Mary Pat Rowan
John G. Gloster
Naomi J. Monk
Karen (Kay) Hixson
Andrea E. Rosen Philip Polivchak
Robert (Bob) Siegel
Beth A. Paulson
James N. Norris
Brenda H. Tobe
Roland L. Edmonds
Anne D. Williams
Paul J. Riley
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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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.
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- 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