What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, D.C. councilmember Jack Evans was hurling profanities in his desire to get the Montreal Expos in town. Now, with the year-old Washington Nationals still at odds with the city over a lease on the stadium that the council approved last December, Evans is telling MLB they can take their team and shove it.
The holdup is a lease provision that would pay rent to D.C. in the form of a share of stadium revenues. Bond financiers have told the district that it won’t certify stadium bonds unless there’s a guaranteed revenue stream – i.e., actual rent payments that come in regardless of whether there’s a baseball strike or a seaboard-destroying mega-tsunami. MLB is opposed to a flat rent formula, though, and that’s got Evans hopping mad, telling WTOP news radio:
“What I have told them is: This is non negotiable. So you either agree to this, or you move the team to somewhere else because we’re wasting our time.”
“If you have to guarantee us a $6 million a year guarantee, then do it. I mean, enough is enough.”
“It’s not me being the hard negotiator. I am boxed in by Wall Street. Wall Street has said to us…that under no circumstances will they give us this investment-grade rating without this guarantee.”
“We have worked too hard to get an investment-grade rating. The interest rates would be too high and baseball understands this. So they have to give.”
“We have proven in this city that we can support a baseball team. We had 2.7 million people come to RFK stadium for god’s sakes. … Now it’s time for baseball to put up.”
“I’m getting very frustrated…They should have an owner by the end of the month, or maybe all bets are off. Maybe that’s the position we have to take.”
Mostly, the kerfuffle is serving to delay MLB’s decision on selling the league-owned Nats to a private owner, since no one is going to be willing to put down a deposit until they know what the lease deal is. It’s awfully unlikely that Evans, after pushing through the $580 million stadium deal in the first place, is suddenly going to tell the Nats to get lost if they don’t agree to his lease terms – though I suppose there’s no telling what an entire season of watching Cristian Guzman might have done to his psyche.