Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More Crapp from Cropp

THE FATE OF the Washington Nationals may not be a national story, but Just Inside the Beltway needs to chime in and say: Linda Cropp, the Chair of the DC City Council, is full of crap.

Last year at this time Cropp orchestrated a campaign to get a better deal from Major League Baseball that nearly derailed the move of the Montreal Expos to Washington. Now, one year later, she is threatening to back out on an agreement that SHE AND THE COUNCIL APPROVED because she fears it will cost DC taxpayers too much. Monday, during an all day hearing on the stadium deal, she said, "If it's over, then let it be over. It is time to cut our losses."

We think it's time to note a couple of things:

1) Linda Cropp is running for Mayor and her stance on the issue screams politics.

  • Last December she claimed "baseball is dead" in DC.
  • Later that month she voted in favor of a deal to bring the team to Washington. A deal which included a large amount of private financing for a new stadium to be built along the SE waterfront. (Let's leave aside, for the moment, the fact that municipalities can get much lower interest rates on loans than can private borrowers -- thus helping keep the overall costs down).
  • In January she wore her Nats cap and officially welcomed baseball to DC, cheering wildly the whole time.
  • In April she attended the home opener for the Nats, a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
  • Earlier this summer (in her Mayoral candidacy announcement) she boasted, "Many people told me that I shouldn't take on the baseball league. But I did."
  • This month she argued in favor of a plan that would put the stadium on the grounds of RFK -- a direct violation of the agreement she helped broker with MLB last year.
  • Yesterday: "It's time to cut our losses."

We understand that politicians like to have it both ways, but this is rediculous.

2) Linda Cropp and her mates on the Council oversee a government that throws money away by the millions and has no idea how it is being spent -- as a new series of reports in the Washington Post highlighted in a series of stories earlier this week. Now she's fretting over a $20 million overlay that will more than pay for itself in the long term by way of corporate investment and community revitalization. Investors are already pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the area.

3) JIB understands that the current deal with baseball is not a great one for DC. But one year of baseball in DC should help detractors see the benefits that baseball will bring. Not only was the team profitable last year (in a bad ball park), the potential for economic revival in an area of town that desperately needs it is a critical part of the equation. 10 years ago the Gallery Place/Chinatown part of DC was full of vacant buildings and crack houses. Now it is a thriving part of town with residential, retail, and commercial spaces booming. Why? In large part it is due to the vision of Abe Pollin, the owner of the Washington Wizards and then-owner of the Washington Capitals who stuck to his guns (despite heavy resistance from -- guess who -- the DC City Countil) and built the MCI Center on the corner of 7th and G Streets. Granted, he used his own money to build the arena, but the economic boom to the area has been enormous. A ballpark on the waterfront could have MCI Center-like results. How about a ballpark at RFK? Not a chance!

Much more in today's Post, including a great column by Marc Fisher. [Wash Post]


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