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MLB and D.C.: Baseball Belongs in the Capital

Imagine: It’s been another day on Capitol Hill. You can’t eat because the vote call keeps ringing. Your legislative assistants are turning out policy briefings like ATMs turn out cash. Your press secretary has a phone to each ear. There’s a line five people deep to meet with you. You deserve a break.

So you walk down the street, grab a hot dog, buy a cap and — on a gleaming summer day, with thousands of people like you — watch Major League Baseball in Washington, D.C.

Since I took office, I’ve worked to generate economic development across the District. Today, everywhere you look, you see cranes cutting through our skyline — and $24.5 billion worth of development in this city. We opened our new convention center. We’re close to selecting a developer to renovate our former one. We’re currently building — or planning to build — 154 retail projects, 171 office projects, nearly 7,000 hotel rooms and more than 32,000 residential units, for current renters and new residents alike. As I see it, returning the national pastime to the nation’s capital is another great economic development tool — and it’s also a catalyst for our city’s civic pride.

A new ballpark and team will produce more than $1.1 billion in overall benefits over a 30-year period:

• Construction of a new ballpark alone is projected to create 3,500 new jobs and generate $5 million in District tax revenues.

• Team and ballpark operations would create nearly 360 new jobs, $94 million in annual salaries and $28 million in annual tax revenues.

• Fan spending outside the ballpark would introduce nearly $48 million in annual economic activity to the District. It would create 675 new jobs, with annual earnings of more than $14 million.

Our new ballpark can ultimately do what the MCI Center did for its neighborhood. By its 10th birthday, the MCI Center will have helped to spur more than $14 billion in new development, including more than 5,000 units of housing, created more than 17,000 new jobs and generated nearly $140 million in annual tax revenue within just five blocks.

We’ve also planned our baseball financing so that none of the city’s general revenues will be used for the construction of the ballpark. The ballpark will not take away funds from schools, streets or other services that residents have come to expect.

Beyond the economic benefits, baseball helps revitalize neighborhoods. It can create jobs, retail, restaurants and housing. It unifies cities around their home team. And it creates a sense of civic pride. It’s one thing to watch the seventh inning on television. But few events rally a community and create shared memories more than Opening Day, a September pennant race or a Game Seven.

Washington, D.C., is our nation’s capital. Baseball is our national pastime. It’s time to bring the two together again.

Anthony Williams (D) is the mayor of Washington, D.C.

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