On the eve of the 4th: The Nationals, the ballpark, and development

It appears that the stadium building lobby is taking time off for now, but there is always time for introspection. As talk radio hosts rail against stimulus funding and government waste, the Washington Nationals, a beneficiary of a pre-stimulus package in the form of almost $700 million of taxpayer money to build a new ballpark, sit in last place in their division. What are taxpayers getting for their money? Well, stimulus hasn’t occurred, though it was presumed to be a product of construction as plans were being drawn up and pushed through the political process.

Nationals president Stan Kasten was on C-SPAN recently, telling a National Press Club audience to be patient because a bright future lies ahead, despite a dismal on-field performance this season.

For a less upbeat overview of the Nationals’ progress, including some focus on the stadium issue and pathetic development that has unfolded around the new stadium, Jeff Blair at the Toronto Globe and Mail put together an article which explains that the new ballpark is so nondescript that it could have been plopped into Minneapolis, Cincinnati, or Cleveland. To be fair, the departure of the team from Montreal to Washington may have some Canadians agitated, but the team has struggled with attendance, and Blair reports that the neighborhood surrounding the new ballpark features little more than a seedy liquor store and a temporary tent that serves as a faux-tailgate area. So much for the brisk economic development the new ballpark was supposed to bring…

I’ll be on break this weekend, and look forward to seeing Neil return with his insights and humor. If I see anything break in the next 24 hours, I’ll do my best to have it posted, but I suspect things may be slow as we move into a holiday weekend. I hope all of you have an enjoyable and safe Fourth of July weekend.

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