Well, the deal to move the Montreal Expos Major League Baseball team to Washington, DC, (and rename them ‘Washington Nationals’) looks like it may be falling apart. I figure it’s finally time to chime in.
First off, while ‘Nationals’ is a decent name, I was rooting for ‘Wombats.’
More importantly, Mayor Anthony Williams—while I believe him to be a good man—is a political idiot. He entered into a fawning agreement with MLB in which the city’s taxpayers would be wholly responsible for renovating RFK Stadium as a temporary home for the Nationals and then building a brand new stadium in the Southeast Ghettos of DC within a few years.
Not only did he enter into an agreement that gave a sports team—which, I remind you, is a for-profit business—a taxpayer-funded stadium in a bad location (instead of completely renovating the stadium we already have in an acceptable location), but he didn’t even bother to make sure the city council would go along with the plan before agreeing to it.
After much negotiation, the city council did go along with this half-brained baseball deal, but with one fundamental change: Half of the plan had to be funded by private backers.
Private funding for a private business . . . imagine that!
MLB didn’t like the idea though, and it seems like the whole plan is about to collapse.
Look, DC, didn’t deserve this team in the first place. This area is a unique metro area that encompasses parts of Maryland and Virginia and the entirety of Washington, DC. For a long time, the Washington Bullets (basketball, now the Wizards) and the Washington Capitals (ice hockey) played in the Maryland suburbs while the Redskins (American football) played in the city. At about the same time, the Redskins moved into the Maryland suburbs while the Wizards and Capitals moved into the city (all three into new stadiums).
It is time for Virginia to have a team of their own. The Washington Nationals should play in a northern Virginia stadium, and that stadium should be built with as little public funding as possible.
DC’s debacle with baseball is equally the MLB’s and the city’s fault, but it’s a perfect opportunity to reevaluate how much sense moving the Expos into the DC ghetto really made, and act accordingly. But it is imperative that MLB get its head out of the sand; it is not the responsibility of the taxpayers to build their stadiums. They are a business, and a business must build and support the facilities they need to do business. The taxpayers give them more than enough when they buy tickets and go to games.