January 30, 2006
Sensing that the political winds in Our Nation's Capital have shifted in an adverse direction, Major League Baseball has offered a compromise on the D.C. stadium financing terms, thanks in part to the mediation efforts of Dennis Archer. On Friday Mayor Tony Williams submitted a revised lease to the D.C. Council, which is scheduled to vote on the matter on February 7. He made several firm pledges from MLB in an accompanying letter, such as funding for a youth baseball program and additional free tickets for underprivileged youth. The biggest change in the lease itself is that the Nationals would have to pay $2.65 million rent for use of RFK Stadium in 2008 if the new stadium is not finished by then. This takes a lot of pressure off the D.C. government, and represents a realistic appraisal of the construction timeline. The lease does not meet all of the conditions demanded by the holdouts on the D.C. Council, but it is probably "close enough for government work." Increased confidence is reaching a deal is indicated by the fact that the D.C. government has resumed legal proceedings to evict the current occupants from the proposed new stadium site on South Capitol Street. See Washington Post.
Have you noticed the days are getting longer and the birds are starting to sing? A quick glance at the Opening Day countdown at the upper left of the Baseball page reveals that we only have a little over two months to wait. In Friday's Washington Post, Thomas Boswell muses about the imminence of spring training and Opening Day. He sees the soap opera over the return of Theo Epstein in Boston and the stadium controversy in Washington as circuses to keep us fans entertained while we wait for baseball to resume.
I had heard something about the recent renewed push in Kansas City to get funding for a new movable roof that could cover either Kauffman Stadium or Arrowhead Stadium, in case of inclement weather. Mike Zurawski sent me a link to a story about it, including an artist's depiction: kansascity.com Frankly, I remain dubious about the need for such an extravagant add-on, which might seriously degrade the ambience of that fine ballpark. They say that an enclosure for Arrowhead Stadium would help lure the Super Bowl to Kansas City, but I think the Super Bowl was made to be played in the warmer southern latitudes. Detroit??? Mike also sent this link with a photo of construction on the new left field wall at Citizens Bank Park: delawareonline.com.
My lack of baseball blogging over the past week (and slow response to e-mail inquiries) is due to my intense preoccupation with revamping my Photo gallery. (Some of you may notice that I modified the stadium montage slightly.) One of the newly added photos is of a stadium construction project in Peru. I'll bet they could save some money on the new stadium in D.C. by cutting corners on construction standards and regulations! What hardhat? What OSHA? What minimum wage? (Just kidding.)
Fear not, however, work is well under way on several of the stadiums on the "to-do" list. I have determined that the existing Shibe Park diagram understates the exterior dimensions by at least 20 or 30 feet. Also, the main grandstand in Yankee Stadium extends 10-20 feet further toward the outfield than is indicated by the present diagram.