66 Comment

  • Yes! Let’s celebrate 700 million dollars being gifted to billionaires!

    • Exactly this. You can throw that tweet in the trash where it belongs. Are people really proud that these clowns ponied up all that taxpayer money without even asking us what we thought so a guy worth >$5 billion wouldn’t have to? Give me a f*cking break. The joke is on us.

    • I’m normally pretty skeptical of stadium deals, and certainly won’t argue that this one should have been negotiated better. Any number of points you can make about it being too generous to the team. BUT I also don’t think there can be any argument that the stadium drove development of the Waterfront in a way that is massively beneficial to the city. Add the other intangibles of civic pride and branding for the city, and it’s not so easy to call the park a boondoggle.

      • It’s not easy to call it a boondoggle? DC can’t borrow money because of all the money we gave away to a billionaire. We retained almost no rights whatsoever to the stadium, we can’t even put up signage they disagree with.
        Do you really think in a city that adds 1000+ residents a month that development wouldn’t have moved into Navy Yard anyway? In DC you pay a 28% premium to live near a metro station, there are large employers down there, the river, lots of plots of land, it would have happened anyway. Plenty of studies have shown that stadium deals don’t earn cities back the money they spent.
        I love having the Nats here, but I think the Verizon Center is the model we should work from.

        • I wasn’t hear in 2008, so make no claims to first hand knowledge. However, everything I’ve seen and heard about the area before the stadium suggests it would not be so explosively popular as it is now. How many of the 1000+ a month coming in now would be diverted to Arlington and Clarendon if we didn’t have a fully developed Navy Yard neighborhood to soak them up? No judgement meant, but people moving into those buildings by and large wouldn’t be picking transitional neighborhoods.
          Don’t mean to fall on my sword for Nats Park. I don’t have the expertise or time to come to a full accounting, I just think it’s a complicated situation.
          Most important point from this thread — there’s no way we should do the same for a football stadium. 80+ baseball games a year is enough to sustain business, grow a neighborhood, etc. Eight football games and the odd mega concert does not.

      • I agree. It’s the same as the stadiums that drove the redevelopment of upper 14th Street and Columbia Heights, Shaw, NoMa, etc…

  • That is really only harsh on the corrupt idiots on the council who gifted 750M to a Maryland billionaire.

  • I can’t view the photo — is it of a sign saying something like “What has D.C. ever done for the Nationals”?

  • While a great tweet retort I must admit I was expecting Popville to add a snarky comment in the URL.

  • maxwell smart

    shade court is in session

  • $701.3M stadium that DC residents DONT OWN! 50-60% fans come from VA. But Mayor Williams bent over & took one from MLB, WITHOUT asking the DC residents what they wanted. Lead in the water. No problem; build a MLB stadium. Schools crumbling. No problem; build a MLB stadium. Infrastructure failing. No problem; build a MLB stadium. Your tax $701.3M NOT AT WORK!!!

    • On a more positive note, there’s no way that the Navy Yard area would have had 40,000 extra people show up 80 times a year without the stadium being there. While I’m not a fan of the $700 million the city chipped in, having the stadium undeniably transformed the area. You could argue that the area would have developed eventually, but that’s a fairly specious argument considering how little development was slated until the stadium broke ground.

      The key is for the city to NOT spend any money on a new football stadium. That will absolutely be a boondoggle with almost no benefit to the city.

      • A lot of other development (e.g., the Department of Transportation building) was already in the works — the stadium gets more credit for the development than it deserves.
        D.C. needs to stop handing out corporate welfare to sports teams and other entities. I can’t remember — did we end up doing a sweetheart deal with D.C. United and the Buzzard Point location, or did that get scuttled?

        • Yes. I forget the details, but DC is effectively gifting another billionaire owner well over $100 million for essentially nothing.

        • The stadium is happening but I wouldn’t describe it as a sweetheart deal. Whatever you call it, it’s a pittance compared to what the Nats got.

          • We could have sold the Reeves Center at market rate, bought the stadium land, built the stadium, and bought the team. Not that I think DC should be in the business of owning a team, I’m just saying, it would have been a lot of money.

          • jeslett, Bowser took the Reeves building out of the DC United stadium deal. The city still owns it and can sell it at market rate if they want to.

          • Thanks, I’m apparently behind.

        • Yeah, because everyone loves living next to a federal building. Once office workers leave, a neighborhood is dead. All of those apartments went up because of the stadium, and it actually took a while for people to start moving there (I recall 3 months free rent plus parking back in 08-09). There’s no way a federal office building would spark that kind of development.

          • maxwell smart

            +1 – this is why the downtown area is a ghost town nights and weekends. Office buildings don’t create neighborhoods that people want to live in.

          • Federal office buildings can in fact help spark development — witness the DOJ/ATF building at New York and Florida Avenues. That area used to be pretty dead; now there are expensive high-rise apartment/condo buildings. Or how various jurisdictions are pitching themselves as good locations for the FBI when it moves out of the J. Edgar Hoover Building.
            The baseball stadium helped spur development at Navy Yard, but it wasn’t the only factor.

          • I’d wager the opening of the Noma metro station and proximity to Union Station had far more to do with spurring development than the ATF building.

          • Density and quality of life in that area owe more to the Wendy’s and the homeless meth lab on the tracks than they do to the ATF building. And now a lovely parking garage is going up on the other side of Dave Thomas Circle. Blah!
            Metrorail begets density, and density begets density. REI follows.

      • Except that the benefits of all that development aren’t really falling to the people who paid for the stadium. Many people are getting extremely rich, whereas the average DC resident just ends up footing the bill.

        • The increased tax revenue the city gets benefit district residents and the businesses that have opened up also benefit the district as well as many small business owners.

          • “many small business owners” – okay, let’s play that game: how many small business owners has the Nats stadium really benefited? The vast majority of restaurants opening in that area are either large corporate entities or very well-heeled quasi-local restaurant groups. This “small business” trope needs to die.

          • To add: the Nats stadium hasn’t come anywhere close to recouping those $700 million, and likely won’t for another hundred or so years.

          • Well-heeled doesn’t mean they aren’t small businesses. I’d take a Blue Jacket over Ruby Tuesdays any day. Either way, those businesses provide jobs – jobs that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

          • Sure, but let’s not pretend that this helped the median DC tax-payer who footed the bill. The benefits are incredibly stratified to those who had the least to risk.

      • Here’s an interesting piece by Tom Boswell with a similar observation/argument. https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/nationals-park-has-become-an-urban-development-triumph-who-knew/2016/09/14/7cf60e3c-7a80-11e6-bd86-b7bbd53d2b5d_story.html
        And I was also under the impression that DC gets additional tax revenue from the stadium (in addition to the additional property & sales taxes from additional development in the region). I’m not well-versed in this area, but I also agree that it’s not clear that the area would have developed this much and this quickly absent the ballpark.

        • Maybe not “this quickly”, but then another part of DC would’ve been the recipient of more “quick” development. The developers would’ve simply focused more on NoMa/Union Market, wand the Navy Yard area would’ve come logically after. There wouldn’t be a net difference in tax dollars raised for DC as a whole.

          • Would it have necessarily been another part of DC rather than part of VA/MD?

          • Yes. Land in/around NoMa was FAR cheaper than that same plot in Rosslyn or Bethesda. Again, what precipitated all this development is changing desire to live closer to work and other amenities (metro, etc).

    • Would you prefer that DC residents travel to a venue in VA and spend their money there? When they come here we’re getting tax revenue at the park and at other local businesses. I’m not a big fan of public financing of sports venues, but this doesn’t seem like a strong argument against it.

      • Ideally no local governments give the owners money, land, or anything and they build it themselves. But we saw how that worked out when the mayor at Atlanta took a stand against the Braves, they just went to the rich, white county next door.

        • And (if I remember correctly) this was after taxpayer dollars had built the Olympic Stadium that subsequently became the Braves’ stadium.

  • justinbc

    That’s a hilarious tweet, even if it does make light of one of the worst decisions the DC government has made in the past several decades.

  • And yet DCPS is still bad as ever…what a waste.

    • What does this have to do with DCPS? Other than sucking up all the capital funding available so we can’t renovate long overdue DCPS buildings fast enough?

  • If you think that the 700 mil was going to be spent on anything more worthwhile than a stadium, you’re mistaken. This was just about the best alternative. It wasnt going to be spent on good mass transit solutions, schools, or other infrastructure. We probably would have simply boosted the rainy day fund or wasted it away on some other, less deserving, project.