‘Hail no’ and ‘Hail yes’ to the Redskins
There’s so much that goes into building a new house, superyacht or sports stadium that the average taxpayer can’t even imagine.
What the average taxpayer is likely to find out afterward is that building containment walls (on and off our southern border), designing plumbing and planning traffic patterns, and paying architects, landscapers, and construction and maintenance crews costs a bundle.
The Dallas Cowboys’ stadium, by example, cost $1.2 billion in 2013. Taxpayers in Arlington, Texas, where the stadium is actually located, kicked in $325 million.
That’s because local and state taxpayers kick in on infrastructure, such as roads and utilities.
Another example is what Maryland and Prince George’s taxpayers paid for Jack Kent Cooke’s Washington Redskins to move from RFK Stadium in Northeast to Landover, where the team’s lease on FedEx Field will expire in 2027.
What the Redskins’ owner decides to do with his team depends a lot on the sands in the hourglass. After all, it’s his team, it’s his choice.
What so-called power brokers do not understand, however, is that they can say “Hail yeah” to Redskins and “Hail no” to the Redskins and still come out on top.
Elected federal and D.C. officials could simply shake their heads, as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan seemingly has done.
Indeed, D.C. Council member Charles Allen already has a “Hail No” petition making the rounds.
“As a DC resident, I am against a deal that gives away a single square foot of land or a single District tax dollar to build a new stadium for billionaire NFL owner Dan Snyder,” the Democrat says in the petition.
But here’s the rub: Mr. Allen represents Ward 6, which includes not only Capitol Hill but also stadiums for MLB’s Washington Nationals and MLS’ D.C. United. In addition, he helped shepherd the nearly redevelopment of the Wharf, which sparkles with commercial and residential amenities and jobs.
Meanwhile, the RFK site, hard by the Anacostia River, is used for such things as a distribution site for Girl Scout cookies a noble effort but hardly a moneymaker.
There’s no solid argument here for the city to begin to coloring the fiscal books with indelible red markers, which is what happened with the baseball and soccer projects.
On the other hand, there are costs that the city should assume, such as the cost of D.C. Water necessities.
But when it comes to the stadium, the costs should come from the Snyder bank. Most of the transportation costs should as well, including Metro upgrades, so motorists and other taxpayers don’t get gridlocked as they do at Nats Park when the team has a night game.
Listen, I appreciate Mr. Allen’s argument against land giveaways. He should be more transparent, though, about another facts:
1) D.C. land is actually owned by all Americans.
2) All American taxpayers contribute to D.C. coffers, including renovations for City Hall.
3) Billionaires don’t need public financing for their projects, especially when they own MLB, MLS and other major sports teams, including the Washington Mystics and Wizards, as well as the boutique and major hotel chains (Trump International Hotel included).
A new stadium could easily be built at the RFK Stadium site the city’s largest, oldest and ugliest white elephant.
The talk around town is that some powerbrokers want RFK to be a multiuse green space of parks, bike trails and a smattering of moneymaking undertakings.
D.C. leaders can think green all they want, but the fact is that a sure-fire moneymaker is needed if the capital is going to generate the real revenue that’s going to be needed pay for the sucking sounds caused by the real social service giveaways.
Maryland has opened wide the door for D.C. leaders to grab a gold ring on the DMV merry-go-round and say “Hail yes” to Mr. Snyder.
Deborah Simmons can be contacted at email@example.com.