D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is grateful that daily deal-provider LivingSocial "stepped up" and offered to put down a deposit to cover any costs from extended Metro service after late-night playoff games at Nationals Park this month.
"I think it was a great move for LivingSocial, I mean really a great move," Mr. Mendelson said Monday. "At some level I wish the District government had done it because it probably won't cost them a penny."
The company's decision to put down $29,500 for an extended hour of service — and a second hour, if necessary — out of the Navy Yard Metro station following Washington Nationals' playoff games settled a standoff between the District and the baseball club. Neither entity offered to pay for the service before LivingSocial came to the rescue as a private, third-party benefactor.
The move has been viewed as a public relations master stroke because the payment is reimbursed based on ridership during the additional hours.
"If the playoff games sell out — my guess is they will sell out — then there will be enough ridership on Metro there will not be a cost," Mr. Mendelson said. "It's just a function of putting down a deposit. ... It shows some civil leadership on their part."
Mr. Mendelson said the issue of paying for Metro is "a complicated one." He said it appeared that Major League Baseball was the true "culprit" in the delay by telling the Nationals not to pay for it and thus set a precedent for teams in other cities.
LivingSocial will pay for train service between 11:20 p.m. and 12:20 p.m., and from 12:20 a.m. to 1:20 a.m. if necessary.
Parking is scarce around the ballpark and much of the team's fan base travels into the District from Virginia and Maryland for games. Metro provides rail service until midnight Sundays through Thursdays, with the last trains leaving the Navy Yard station at 11:20, and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
The chairman said it is unclear what kind of precedent LivingSocial's offer sets within the District.
"We have a short-term solution," Mr. Mendelson said. "My discussions were, very clearly, only about this fall and we'll just have to continue to deal with this issue."
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