- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

So now we are being regaled with the latest twists and turns involving the publicly funded proposed ballpark site in Southeast, starting with a D.C. Council looking to appear fiscally prudent while remaining committed to the awful deal forged with Major League Baseball.

There is nothing like an approaching election season to prompt the backside-protecting instinct of politicians.

The city gave away everything but the Washington Monument to baseball in order to land the team, and the stench has become harder on the senses than the Blue Plains treatment plant after the Nationals sold more than 2.7 million tickets to the ill-equipped confines of RFK Stadium in their inaugural season.

Of course, all the apocalyptic warnings going into the season did not come to be; namely, this region’s incapacity to sustain two franchises at opposite ends of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

That concern was merely one of baseball’s bargaining ploys designed to get Mayor Anthony A. Williams to hand over the combination to the city’s vault, as he did.

This is not to minimize the significance of baseball’s return after a 34-year absence. The game’s return has been a very good thing for a city that never could embrace the Orioles, no matter how hard Peter Angelos endeavored to turn the nation’s capital into a de facto suburb of Baltimore, absurd as that notion is.

The booming D.C. market finally was granted an opportunity to show its demographic muscle, and it exceeded expectations in a compelling manner, all the more so given the inadequate concessions at the stadium, a Rubik’s Cube-like TV/radio package, the lack of accountable owners and a team that collapsed after the All-Star break.

And yet, the city is still seemingly consigned to the perceptions of 1971, to a one-sided ballpark deal whose costs will be passed along to business owners, who in turn will pass along the costs to consumers. That is one of the big lies of the proposal, that the cost of the stadium won’t hit you, the 8-to-5 working stiff. It will hit you each time you have a need to do business with a company that meets the convoluted tax criteria of lawmakers.

Not surprisingly, baseball persists in saying a deal is a deal, even as the costs of the proposed ballpark rise with each passing month, which is funny. We have not even begun the predictable fun of construction overruns.

All kinds of wealthy folks are going to end up even wealthier, as the city employs eminent domain to secure the 21-acre site by Dec. 31. This pursuit is being helped by the five socialists on the U.S. Supreme Court who ruled against homeowners in favor of yuppie-seeking New London, Conn., last summer.

Oh, yes, build up the Anacostia River waterfront in the manner of Chinatown Disneyland, and the suburbanites will come. And run roughshod over those who do not want to part with their businesses. Their only legal recourse is to seek higher prices than the ones being offered by the city, if only to slow the land-acquisition process and hope council members entertain anew the feasibility of building the ballpark next to RFK Stadium.

Theirs is a long-shot prospect at best, for all too many council members are mostly interested in serving their re-election interests instead of the interests of their constituents. Of all the council members, Chairman Linda W. Cropp is the one whose political aspirations are most transparent. She nearly scuttled the relocation deal in December. But now, with the stadium financing back before the council and a mayoral campaign in mind, Mrs. Cropp has no plans to abandon the proposed site.

She has come to be a flip-flopper extraordinaire, ever in sync with the changing political winds. Her repeated insistence to limit the public costs of the proposed ballpark apparently is no longer on her agenda.

A deal is a deal.

Some deal.

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