League of Fans

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League of Fans and the NO DC taxes for baseball! coalition letter to the editor responding to D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans' 'plan' for baseball in the District

Evans' 'plan' for baseball leaves out wishes of D.C. taxpayers


In his Aug. 13, 2004 commentary piece (“Evans: Take N. Va. out of the ballgame”), D.C. Councilman Jack Evans makes a number of presumptuous statements about the District’s effort to land the Montreal Expos that show disdain not only for members of the public, but also for his fellow council members. The upshot of Mr. Evans’s article is that the council has already made up its collective mind to support public financing of a baseball stadium if D.C. is awarded the Expos’ franchise, and, therefore, what D.C. residents have to say about the issue is irrelevant.

In what may be the greatest political boast heard in the District of Columbia since Alexander Haig said, “I’m in charge” after President Reagan was wounded by a would-be assassin, Mr. Evans wrote: “You come, baseball, and we will build it. I guarantee it.” Citizens, stand aside. Jack Evans has proclaimed it thus.

Mr. Evans contends that “the council is in total support of the Expos relocating to the District.” While all council members want the Expos in the District, what Mr. Evans doesn’t say is that several council members have been quoted in the press as opposing the substantial public financing advocated by Mr. Evans and Mayor Tony Williams at the behest of Major League Baseball, which wants the project financed with as great a percentage of public dollars as possible.

Two council members, Adrian Fenty, D-Ward 4, and David Catania, R-at large, even wrote a recent Washington Post “Close to Home” piece in which they opposed substantial public financing for baseball and called for the prospective team owners to pay for stadium construction out of their own pockets.

Mr. Evans further wrote that “the necessary financing plan for the ballpark will go through my budget and finance committee and then the entire council. When we get the team, we will introduce legislation, hold hearings and quickly pass the needed financing plan.”

It should be noted that Evans and the Mayor have yet to publicly disclose specifics of their financing plan. The plan has been discussed by city officials behind closed doors among themselves and with Major League Baseball, but the press and the public have been shut out as to specifics, despite repeated requests by reporters and citizens for more information.

Additionally, Mr. Evans wrote that the business community “is also in total support of a new ballpark and last summer lobbied the council to reinstate the arena fee to help finance a new stadium.”

Business people lobbying to have a tax imposed on themselves? This should come as a shock to some business leaders who have been quoted in the press this summer as saying they haven’t been filled in on the details of the Williams-Evans financing plan and who seemed less than enthusiastic about any tax on business receipts, such as was done in the financing of the MCI Center infrastructure.

Mr. Evans should know that a lot of District residents, including his Ward 2 constituents, oppose public financing and new taxes for a baseball stadium.

A coalition of more than a dozen organizations and hundreds of individuals, organized around the public financing issue, has been formed under the name No DC Taxes for Baseball Campaign (www.nodctaxesforbaseball.org). We, too, want the Expos in the District of Columbia. But we believe that any stadium should be built by the people who stand to profit from a new team -- the owners (such as was done by the owners of the San Francisco Giants) -- and not by D.C. taxpayers.

And the process by which we decide whether or not to provide public financing for a stadium should be an open one, not a closed-door affair in which only the deal makers are present and the press and public are absent.

For the No DC Taxes for Baseball Campaign:

Linda Leaks and Parisa Norouzi
District of Columbia Empowerment Project

Shawn McCarthy
League of Fans


Councilmember Evans' editorial from the Washington Business Journal - August 13, 2004:
Evans: Take N. Va. out of the ballgame