MLB says D.C.'s alternative site for new stadium unacceptable

SPORTS DIGEST

Sports Digest

December 14, 2005

Baseball will not accept a new Washington Nationals ballpark adjacent to RFK Stadium as an alternative to a site south of the Capitol, Major League Baseball's No. 2 official told District of Columbia Council members yesterday.

Bob DuPuy, MLB's chief operating officer, outlined the sport's opposition to the RFK site in a letter to council Chair Linda W. Cropp as council members held a hearing on a stadium lease agreement reached last week for the stadium site along the Anacostia River waterfront.

"The deadlines negotiated in the baseball stadium agreement are important to the long-term success of this franchise," DuPuy wrote. "It does not appear to us that those deadlines could possibly be met if the District were now to propose that the site be changed."

Wrangling with the federal government over environmental effects of a stadium on the RFK site also could lead to delays of at least two years, the city's chief financial officer, Natwar M. Gandhi, warned Monday. That would spark $19 million in penalties under the proposed lease and trigger a lawsuit by MLB.

Sharon Gang, a spokeswoman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said the mayor agrees with DuPuy.

The council is scheduled to vote on the stadium lease next week. Approval is required before the city can issue bonds to pay for the project. Baseball officials are waiting for the lease to be approved before selecting a new owner for the Nationals, who were bought by the other 29 teams in 2002, when they were the Montreal Expos.

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