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An Open Letter to the D.C. Council: Stop the Squeeze Play on Taxpayers and Oppose the Proposed Baseball Stadium Lease Deal

January 19, 2006

Dear Councilmember:

On behalf of the millions of members represented by the groups listed below, we urge you to oppose the proposed baseball stadium lease during future D.C. Council deliberations. Your willingness to defend taxpayers is critical for taxpayers hoping to preserve some protections from cost overruns and spiraling stadium construction costs. If the City Council fails in its duty to protect taxpayers, the District will be forced to build a new baseball stadium, the final costs of which are largely unknown.

Taxpayer and good-government advocates have watched in dismay as the cost for a publicly-subsidized baseball stadium has steadily mounted. The $535 million budget adopted a year ago for a complex along the Anacostia River has ballooned to $667 million, making it the costliest outdoor baseball stadium ever. Even an alternative proposal of building near the existing RFK stadium would cost $606 million (up from $404 million). With Major League Baseball only willing to kick in a paltry $20 million for construction costs (in exchange for parking revenue), D.C. taxpayers will be on the hook for millions in subsidies. In fact, the package currently offered by the D.C. Council to build a new stadium amounts to more than the total cost of most stadium projects built around the country since 2000!

The vast body of research suggests that the proposed baseball stadium in D.C. will not generate notable economic or fiscal benefits for the city. In fact, the cost of the large stadium subsidy itself will likely far outweigh any economic benefits to the District.

As you are well aware, many taxpayers are indeed baseball fans, but most of them do not believe that forcing businesses and taxpayers located in the District of Columbia to subsidize millionaire owners and athletes is sound public policy. Bringing baseball to the District has been a long and contentious process and some self-interested parties would like to force a premature and costly resolution on the deal. However, all District residents would be better served by the Council passing a more fiscally responsible revision of the current plan at a later time.

Some of our groups have studied stadium projects across the nation and the deal that has been proposed for D.C. taxpayers is the worst we've seen. That said, please do not hesitate to contact us for additional information and ideas on how to make this project less costly for taxpayers.


Thomas Schatz
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Jill Lancelot
Taxpayers for Common Sense Action
John Berthoud
National Taxpayers Union
Chris Weiss
Director, DC Projects
Friends of the Earth

Ed Lazere
Executive Director
DC Fiscal Policy Institute