D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday he is “very confident” that he has the seven necessary votes from the D.C. Council for his plan to build a ballpark near South Capitol Street Southeast.
Mr. Williams and numerous city sources said a frenetic, three-day lobbying campaign solidified enough political support to trump a rival plan for a ballpark at the grounds of RFK Stadium offered by council Chairman Linda W. Cropp.
The full council is set to vote on the measure today.
“I believe we have the votes,” said Mr. Williams, who was flanked at a press conference by 19 local business leaders. “Neither one of us wants to kill baseball.”
Major League Baseball (MLB) has threatened to walk out on its deal to relocate the team to the District if funding for the Southeast ballpark site is not obtained.
Mr. Williams appears to have prevailed by landing the support of Ward 1 Democrat Jim Graham, a swing vote in the political battle between Mr. Williams and Mrs. Cropp.
Mr. Graham last night was completing a deal with the mayor to earmark millions of dollars from the stadium-financing package for city libraries. The money would come from a tax-increment financing district that the mayor wants to establish around the Southeast ballpark.
Library funding was a loosely stated goal of a community benefits fund announced two weeks ago by Mr. Williams.
But Mr. Graham argued for more specific funding for libraries, starting with a $45 million infusion. A press conference to announce the library deal and Mr. Graham’s support has been scheduled for this morning before the council hearing.
“If we don’t have seven votes for this [library plan], we don’t have seven votes for the mayor’s proposal,” Mr. Graham said.
Mr. Graham likely will join Democrats Jack Evans, Harold Brazil, Vincent B. Orange Sr., Kevin P. Chavous, Sharon Ambrose and Sandy Allen in voting for Mr. Williams’ plan.
Mrs. Allen, like Mr. Graham, is seeking to make a last-minute deal that will provide job creation and economic development for her Ward 8 residents.
Mr. Graham also said the library deal would help answer critics who say the ballpark project will divert city resources from more critical needs.
“What I’m hearing from my constituents is that there are other priorities far more important than baseball, and I agree with that view,” he said. “What I’m bringing to my constituents is that we will be addressing other, … more important D.C. priorities.”
Mrs. Cropp yesterday conceded that her plan to build a ballpark at the RFK Stadium site, which sent shock waves through the city over the weekend, did not have enough votes to pass.View Entire Story
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