According to multiple sources quoted in an NBC Washington report by Mark Segraves this afternoon, team executives from the Washington Nationals, "... approached several District officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray’s office," to propose a $300M tax-payer funded addition to Nationals Park. The Nats, according to today's report, want to add a roof to the park which opened in 2008 after, "District taxpayers put up about $700 million to build the ballpark in 2006." A 2008 Washington Post report put the total cost at $769.6M.
• Watch the original NBC Washington report which aired on the five and six o'clock News4 broadcasts today:
• [ed. note - "The big question for long-time federalbaseball.com readers after watching that is: 'What did happen to the spinning baseball sculpture in center field?' Animations from the original plans to build the park which are used in the report once again reminded us of the feature which never materialized in the completed stadium."]:
Though a spokersperson for the Mayor declined to comment for NBC Washington's report, sources quoted in the article, "...say the team has been told the District is reluctant to spend tax dollars on a new roof for the District-owned stadium." Subsequent reports have elaborated on the reaction to the Nationals' proposal:
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
Bonus tidbit: One person who saw the Nats Park retractable roof plans called them, "butt ugly."— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) November 26, 2013
• Here's Ian Desmond's take:
Christmas list: 1 Large Roof please. ' ol— Ian Desmond (@IanDesmond20) November 26, 2013
A Washington Business Journal article by Michael Nelbauer published this afternoon quoted a "source in the mayor’s office" who, "...said Gray 'started laughing,'" when approached about the proposed addition to the Nationals' home. A "second source" quoted by the reporter said simply, "it would be cost prohibitive and butt ugly."
D.C. Councilman Jack Evans, described in the report as a, "a leading proponent of sports and entertainment facilities in the District," suggests on the record to Mr. Nelbauer that adding a roof to the ballpark is a good idea that could be funded by the owners of the team:
"Evans suggested, if the Lerners want a roof, they should leverage some of their many real estate holdings to cover the debt, and then use the incremental revenue generated by the roof — with off-season events and such — to cover what's due, instead of asking for D.C. taxpayers to foot the bill."
With the Nationals declining to comment for any of the reports, there's no public explanation for the thinking behind adding a roof to Nationals Park.
Washington Post writers Mike DeBonis and James Wagner noted in their report on the idea of covering the stadium with a retractable roof that since the team is a tenant of the District-owned ballpark, if they wanted to fund the addition, "...they would need approval from the city." Mayor Gray is quoted in the WaPost report saying he is, "'...concerned about hurting the aesthetics of a beautiful stadium.'"
More info when/if there is any...
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