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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Alerts is League of Fans' email announcements list. Alerts provides news, information, the actions of League of Fans and/or Ralph Nader regarding sports issues, and calls-to-action for subscribers. All email updates are either selected or written by League of Fans.


League of Fans is motivated by people, just like you, who are upset with what has become of our sports and would like to make a difference. We work with concerned citizens, sports fans, civic groups and communities to increase awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, influence a broad range of issues in sports at all levels and encourage the cooperative capacities that make the "sports powers-that-be" capable of helping, not just dominating, our society and culture.

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We often think of sports as outside the realm of everyday citizen concern. But the many benefits to society that sports can provide are sometimes undermined by a different set of values, often based on the quest for higher and higher profits at the expense of fans, taxpayers, communities, culture and social justice.

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League of Fans, others in "NO DC taxes for baseball!" coalition warn MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB Relocation Committee Chair Jerry Reinsdorf of the strong opposition to taxes being used for a stadium in D.C.

Allan H. “Bud” Selig
Major League Baseball
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, New York 10167

Jerry Reinsdorf
Major League Baseball Relocation Committee
245 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10167

Dear Mr. Selig and Mr. Reinsdorf:

We are writing as residents of Washington, D.C. to make you aware that many people here oppose Mayor Anthony Williams’s pledge to Major League Baseball of up to $383 million to finance construction of a stadium, if the Montreal Expos are relocated here. The signers of this letter represent only a small sampling of individuals and organizations who take a similar position.

Some of the signers of this letter are avid baseball fans, and all of us would like to see a team in the Nation’s Capital. But we believe that the team owners, rather than the public, should pay for the construction of any new stadium. We are determined to fight against any new taxes and public money for a stadium, and our contacts with City Council members indicate strong opposition to spending the millions of dollars in public money that you require for a stadium.

We are taking this step of contacting you because, as D.C. residents, we feel we should have a voice in the process of how any new stadium is paid for and where it is located. To date, that has not been the case. At this point, the mayor and other city officials have refused repeated requests from residents and the press to publicly provide full details of the proposed financing plan or to designate a specific site for the stadium. Even representatives of the business community, which would be subject to a new tax to help pay for the stadium under the mayor’s still-sketchy financing plan, have not been told details of that plan, according to press reports.

Worse, news stories over the last year indicate that it is Major League Baseball (MLB) -- and not our elected officials and certainly not D.C. residents -- that is determining what kind of financing plan we must have and where we must locate a stadium. For example, last year, when our mayor and other city officials told MLB that the city would finance about two-thirds of the cost of a new stadium, you told them that you expected the city to come up with 100% financing. Our officials readily agreed. And we regularly read in the press that MLB would prefer a stadium site at Banneker Overlook -- a site that was not even originally included in site studies on which the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission spent more than a half-million dollars. Citizen input has been missing from this secret process.

We would point out that D.C. residents have previously mobilized successfully against public officials’ baseball plans. Opposition last year ensured that the Ballpark Revenue Act of 2003 died without leaving committee; previously, opposition forced officials to remove from stadium site consideration a Mount Vernon Square location.

More recently, Councilmember Jack Evans disclosed over Memorial Day weekend that he was introducing legislation, to be voted on in a few days without any public hearing, to designate Banneker Overlook as the site for a proposed new stadium. This was the first time city residents -- and, apparently, a majority of the council -- heard about this legislation. Citizens quickly mobilized. Evans pulled the legislation after he and other council members were, as The Washington Post reported, “inundated over the Memorial Day weekend by telephone calls and e-mails from city residents opposed to the legislation.”

It is clear from city officials’ secret dealings with Major League Baseball, and from the recent attempt to steamroll the Banneker Overlook site, that some of these officials do not want the public involved in the process at all. This disdain for the public has served to unite residents as never before to demand that no public money be used for a new stadium.

The District of Columbia government is not awash in extra money that we can easily divert to constructing a stadium, a frill that will serve only a small percentage of the city’s population. We should be spending money on our real priorities -- schools, health care, housing, public safety and other services that affect people’s lives every day. And we have done our homework: We know that studies by economists and academics across the political spectrum have determined that stadiums create mostly low-paying, low-benefit and part-time jobs, and are not the economic boon that you and other public financing advocates claim.

The mayor and council leaders have been making promises about financing to you in the last few months -- and these may be promises they can’t keep. These city officials appear to have deliberately surrounded the new financing plan and stadium sites with secrecy, out of a concern that any council public hearing would disclose the serious opposition that exists in this city to new baseball taxes and public financing.

We believe that the District of Columbia is the best market in the United States for a relocated baseball team. But we also believe that a stadium should be built (as was done in San Francisco) by the new team owners -- the people who will actually stand to profit from a relocated team -- and not by D.C. taxpayers.

We want to put you on notice that we are continuing to inform and organize residents regarding this potential waste of tax dollars and to aggressively oppose public financing of a stadium.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Linda Leaks
District of Columbia
Empowerment Project

Chris Weiss
D.C. Environmental Network
Friends of the Earth

Shawn McCarthy
League of Fans

Parisa Norouzi
Community Organizer
District of Columbia
Empowerment Project

Debby Hanrahan
Sports Committee
D.C. Statehood Green Party

Janet Brown
Washington Regional Network for Livable Communities

Suzanne E. Cambria, MSW
Director of Public Policy
DC Action for Children

Wayne Turner
Act Up/DC

Anise Jenkins
Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition