Taxpayers in the District of Columbia already are paying for most of the Washington Nationals home ballpark, which has housed the team since 2008 after it left RFK Stadium, to the tune of $769.3 million. So, what's a little more public money for a little stadium addition, right?
In a nakedly shocking (an yet, not shocking) attempt to get D.C. residents to foot the bill for ballpark improvements, Nationals owner Ted Lerner reportedly has asked the city's mayor for $300 million so Nationals Park can have a roof. Mark Seagraves of 4 NBC in Washington broke the story:
Multiple sources told News4 that executives with the team approached several District officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray’s office, to propose the addition to the ballpark. While the discussions are in the preliminary stages, diagrams of what the proposed roof would look like as well as estimates of the cost have been presented to the mayor’s office.
The estimated cost would be $300 million.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post offers an amusing detail about the Gray-Lerner meeting:
Source: Ted Lerner met with Mayor Gray with a proposal for a $300 million retractable roof over Nats Park. Gray was "shocked," said no.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) November 26, 2013
It should be noted that Gray and the city council already approved a $50 for improvements to the Verizon Center, where the NBA's Washington Wizards and NHL's Washington Capitals play. Gray also reportedly wants to spend hundreds of millions to finance a new soccer stadium for D.C. United of MLS. The bucks apparently stop for a baseball dome, however.
But do the Nats even need a dome, no matter who pays for it? D.C.'s climate is muggy during the summer and it's in the middle among U.S. cities when it comes to average rainfall. A dome would guarantee that rain or snow or low temperatures would never postpone or delay a game, but how often does that even happen?
The Nats had four home games postponed in 2013 because of the weather. They had a total of six home games weathered out in 2012 and 2011. Paying $300 million for a dome to ensure that three or four games a season don't get rained out seems like a bit unnecessary. It would make the Nats ballpark more comfortable, probably, and no delays would mean less chance the D.C. Metro rail service would stop running and strand fans at the park. Hey, how much would $300 million make the Metro run to at least 2 a.m.?
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