I’d been wondering if it was worth noting the report from over the weekend that D.C. councilmembers were considering reworking the D.C. United stadium deal to eliminate the controversial land swap portion, when late yesterday this happened:
I believe we can get a new soccer stadium deal done by the end of the year – and de-link the Reeves Ctr swap from the deal.
— MurielBowser (@MurielBowser) November 18, 2014
That’s D.C. councilmember and mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, so it’s a pretty big deal that she’s throwing her weight behind this plan. Though “plan” is probably overstating it: The swap of the city-owned Reeves Center government office building to developer Akridge for part of the required stadium land is a key piece of the deal as concocted by outgoing mayor Vincent Gray, and won’t be unraveled so easily.
First off, Akridge would have to agree to take cash for its land instead of the valuable Reeves Center property. And second, D.C. would then have to come up with not just the bonding capacity to pay Akridge (which some councilmembers think they can now manage) but the cash to pay off those bonds — $10-15 million a year, according to the Post, though that sounds high for an estimated land purchase price of $94 million. Either way, though, it’s a significant chunk of change, and eliminating the land shuffle makes it way harder to hide the fact that D.C. would be shelling out a bunch of guaranteed money now for the promise of an economic benefit on Tuesday.
That part, though, doesn’t seem to bother Bowser. In her address to the Federal City Council, a local group of top business and political leaders, she made clear that her opposition to the Reeves Center swap doesn’t extend to the rest of the deal:
“I want to be very clear about this,” she told her audience, which included two former mayors and several of the key players in the stadium deal. “I support building a soccer stadium in the District of Columbia, and I support investing public dollars to get it done.”
And she supports doing it in the next seven weeks, while reworking a deal that was already hazy even after years of negotiations. There’s no possible way this can go wrong.