League of Fans

Founded by Ralph Nader, League of Fans is a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being.

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Ralph Nader's letter to DC Council Chair Linda Cropp applauding her for standing up to Major League Baseball's bullying of the District of Columbia

December 17, 2004

The Honorable Linda W. Cropp
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 504
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Ms. Cropp:

Thank you for standing up to Major League Baseball's bullying of the District of Columbia.

While I do not support your vote in favor of the now ratified stadium legislation for its corporate welfare use of scarce public resources to subsidize wealthy MLB owners, I commend you for insisting that at least some private funding be included. Your amendment requiring that at least half of stadium construction costs be funded privately addresses some of the concerns of District residents and is a principled stand against the increasing arrogance of the freeloading MLB.

Throughout this whole process, MLB has dictated the terms for a stadium as if the District had no elected city legislature to look out for its residents. Mayor Williams complied and signed a deal which threw open the doors to the treasury. Williams then echoed MLB's position that "a deal is a deal," despite the many negative aspects that were revealed and the rising costs for the project.

The DC Council sent a clear message on Nov. 30 with the initial approval of the stadium legislation. You expressed that some reasonable "concessions" from Baseball before the final vote would be needed. MLB's response to your request was offensive, conceded nothing and left you with no choice but to act. Under your leadership, the DC Council defeated the mayor's argument that the District should seek commercial baseball at any price.

You are no doubt facing intense pressure and repeated jeremiads from MLB, as they have much experience in so expressing, as a result of your position. And judging from the overreacting hysteria of some sports writers, many fans from Virginia and Maryland are probably feeling unease as well. But I urge you not to give in as MLB's imposed Dec. 31 deadline approaches. As you said, you speak to the people of the District.

Washington DC has the leverage and MLB has nowhere else to turn. This remains far and away the fattest deal that MLB could extort. The DC metro area is, by far, the largest and wealthiest market available. MLB's operations for the team are already based in the District and over 16,000 season ticket deposits have been sold. MLB has named and marketed the team, and logos, merchandise and uniforms have been designed and produced. And DC has RFK Stadium, underappreciated, yet perfectly suited for the occasion at hand.

Ms. Cropp, I hope you will withstand MLB's attempts at intimidation and continue your work toward guaranteed savings and financial protections for the city.


Ralph Nader
P.O. Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036