November 21, 2005 [LINK]

D.C. ballpark cost overruns

No surprise here: Today's Washington Post reports that the cost estimate for the future home of the Washington Nationals (not including land acquisition and infrastructure) has gone up from $244.1 million to $300 million. The cost of the design as submitted by the architects at HOK had risen to $337 million, and in response Allen Lew, chief executive of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, mandated that some elements of the new stadium be trimmed back. In Washington, the idea that a budget is a rigid constraint on what can be spent is a foreign concept, and cost overruns such as these are par for the course. Constant vigilance by local taxpayers and fans will be necessary to prevent all sorts of porcine crooks from "feeding at the trough."

In addition, the D.C. government is putting pressure on the Federal government to contribute funds for this project, which is certainly appropriate since they did so for RFK Stadium. In fact, I urged Rep. Tom Davis to introduce legislation such that the Federal government would retain naming rights to the stadium -- presumably for some appropriate, dignified purpose -- in exchange for payment of Federal money. If you ask me, the idea of letting some private company put its name on a major landmark so close to the Capitol building would be extremely tacky. Concerned fans are invited to join in this call by contacting Rep. Davis via his Web site.

Inasmuch as legal disputes over the proper price to be paid to existing land owners continue, and financial wrinkles remain to be ironed out, there is still no firm date for ground breaking to begin. If they finish building the new ballpark in time for the 2008 season, as is officially planned, it will be a miracle of epic proportions.

Miami madness

Mike Zurawski sends a link to a forum hosted by the Oregon Stadium Campaign (they are still hoping to lure one of the "troubled" MLB franchises to Portland!) that includes a rendering of the proposed future Miami "ballpark," with a roof that could be moved to cover the Orange Bowl, much like what has been proposed in Kansas City. All I can say is "yikes!" Mike also reminded me that Carlos Baerga is a free agent and therefore can't be traded by the Nationals, though his continued service with the team remains in doubt.

I've been hit with another wave of friendly e-mail messages from new fans. I appreciate such feedback very much, but can't always respond adequately or in a timely fashion. Thanks for your understanding.