- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission would be absorbed by the Washington Convention Center Authority under a new plan outlined by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty in his latest budget proposal.

Fenty’s proposed 2010 budget calls for the elimination of all public subsidy for the sports commission, and suggests the commission and convention center authority would merge operations to form a single organization charged with managing and promoting all of the city’s public event space.

A commission source said there is no indication at this point the city will eliminate any staff or positions. Instead, the commission would be a part of a new entity that combines the functions of both organizations. The mayor’s proposal indicates the absorption would add about $6.4 million to the convention center authority’s budget.

“We have a tough budget we’re facing and what the Mayor is trying to do is find a way so that we can continue to have good service and provide good attractions to the District of Columbia in a way that’s more effective and efficient,” said D.C. Council member Kwame Brown, at-large Democrat and chairman of the councils committee on economic development, which oversees the sports commission. “Most cities have an authority that does all this, so what you stop is a redundancy of services.”

The sports commission played a lead role in attracting the Washington Nationals baseball franchise to the District and building Nationals Park. It operates RFK Stadium and the D.C. Armory, and has been involved in attracting and promoting sports events including the Eagle Bank Bowl, and the city’s high school football and baseball championships.

The convention center authority is in charge of managing the operations of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and booking events there.

Both the convention center authority and the sports commission were quasi-public groups created by the city to perform specific functions but designed to operate as self-sufficient entities. While the groups generally do not rely on District funds on an annual basis, the sports commission in the last two years received $2.5 million in subsidy from the District government to help offset the loss of revenue when the Nationals moved from RFK Stadium to Nationals Park.

Since taking over as mayor, Fenty has dismantled several quasi-public entities with structures similar to the sports commission and convention center authority, including the former Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and National Capital Revitalization Corporation.

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