Stadium inflation heats up debate
The officical responsible for D.C. finances, Natwar Gandhi, issued a report estimating that the proposed new stadium will cost $667 million, in the upper range of the independent estimates published last week. It is also $78 million over budget. A stadium built next to RFK would cost about $606 million, he estimates, but that would cause a delay of another year and would be unlikely to generate anywhere near the amount of development that the Southeast D.C. site would. Not building at all and just staying at RFK for ten or more years would be preferable to a new stadium in that remote part of the city. (That's what D.C. council member Adrian Fenty wants.) For a "tree-by-tree" look at what accounts for the rising cost of the future stadium in Washington, see Washington Post. That misses the "forest-wide" perspective, however: In the D.C. culture of corruption, buck-passing, taxing, and spending, there is very little incentive for anyone to hold down costs. The absurdity of all this debate over how much the new stadium will cost is highlighted by the fact that no specific design has even been agreed upon as of yet!
In a letter to council chairwoman Linda Cropp on behalf of the 29 franchise owners, MLB President Bob Dupuy rejected the RFK stadium site option outright. (Oddly, Jerry Reinsdorf didn't seem to care where the new stadium would be built when he was in Washington negotiating two weeks ago.) See wtop.com. Today the D.C. council met to debate the matter, and Mayor Williams called attention to the public-private development "teams" he is forming to coordinate revitalization of the area surrounding the Southeast D.C. site. The final vote will be on December 20. It will be close, but sanity is almost certain to prevail.
Eischen stays with Nats
Since the bullpen was consistently the Nationals' strongest spot last year, it was great news that they signed up reliever Joey Eischen for another gig. Utility player Robert Fick was also signed; both contracts last one year. See MLB.com. The more players who once played as Montreal Expos remain with the Washington Nationals as the team adjusts to its new identity during this awkward transition phase, the more collective self-confidence and stability it will have in the future. Brad Wilkerson passed his physical, so the trade by which the Nationals are acquiring Alfonso Soriano was made official. Wherever he ends up playing (hint: shortstop!), he will bring first-class excitement and competitive edge to the Nats.
Thanks to Bruce Orser (once again!), I've come across solid numbers on the outfield dimensions at Aloha Stadium: 325 feet to the foul lines (5 feet more than I estimated) and 420 feet to center field (2 feet less). I've corrected the table on that page, and will tweak the diagram ever so slightly in coming days.
Bruce also sent me a high-quality photo of Wrigley Field, apparently from the Cubs' first opening day there in 1916, showing a slight bend in the grandstand on the third base side. I had thought that that bend was the result of moving the grandstand toward the west in 1923; not so. That means I'll have to adjust the 1914 version diagram. That reminds me, I have some very thoughtful e-mail inquiries about Wrigley Field that I need to answer. I spent a lot of time cleaning out my in-box last week, and I'm almost done. My apologies to all for not answering sooner.