D.C. Council approves ballpark package


WASHINGTON -- The D.C. Council last night approved a legislative package that effectively sealed the deal for the city to fund a baseball stadium that will be home to the Washington Nationals.

Included in the package was a contract with the companies that will build the stadium on the Anacostia River waterfront.

The contract was approved on a 9-4 vote - an outcome that had been expected.

The council overcame objections to the deal last month by approving a $611 million cap on the city's costs. That includes money to build the stadium as well as related costs such as land acquisition.

Now that the city has committed to build the stadium, it needs to make sure the venture succeeds, said council member Carol Schwartz, who voted to approve the contract.

"I know we've had our naysayers, and I've been one of them," said Schwartz, who has accused baseball officials of "arrogance" and said earlier last night that she wished she could throw the 30-year stadium lease "into the ocean."

But Schwartz said it's time to move on. "We've got to get over it," she said.

The stadium is to be funded through a combination of sources, including a tax on large businesses and on stadium concessions.

Council member Jack Evans said the new owners may want to add some of their own money into the new stadium "to make it look like what they want it to look like."

Baseball, which owns the team, has been waiting for the stadium financing issue to be resolved before selecting a permanent owner from competing investment groups.

The schedule calls for the stadium to be ready by the 2008 season.


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