Mayor woos D.C. council one more time

D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams has delivered still more stadium documents to the city council – artist’s rendition here – in a last-ditch attempt to gain approval of the Nationals lease this Tuesday. Among the latest tweaks:

  • A “guaranteed maximum price” contract with construction companies to keep the stadium bill itself at $320 million.

  • A $68 million cap on “soft costs,” including legal fees and insurance.

  • An offer of $70 million from private developers for two plots of land near the stadium site, $55 million of which would be used to cover cost overruns on land and infrastructure, with the other $15 million going toward the team.

The last of these is expected to be the contentious item, with several councilmembers wondering aloud whether the sale of a city asset should be considered a new contribution to the project, or a new cost. “If we did not pledge the development rights to this, we would have [the money] to use for other purposes,” councilmember Jim Graham told the Washington Post. “We’re still taking out of our own pockets for baseball.”

Graham, though, no longer matters in the calculus of the lease vote. All eyes are on the three swing votes, Kwame Brown, Vincent Gray, and Carol Schwartz, two of whom must switch sides for the deal to be approved. Brown was the only one talking yesterday, and he said he wasn’t happy with the land-sale provision, either: “I’m not there yet,” he told the Washington Times. “I have asked [council] chairman [Linda] Cropp to postpone the vote.”

Council consultants will be poring over the mound of supporting documents this weekend; depending on what they find and how the swing votes make up their minds, either the council will likely vote for the plan on Tuesday, or Cropp will postpone the vote yet again.

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