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On arenas, stadia and convenient outrage

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A Washington sports team is getting an auxiliary venue for their use. How they got it and the lack of reaction to it (compared to the Buzzard Point discussion) is something worth bringing attention to.

We try to support all sports teams in D.C., rather than include some silly stipulation about how a team that both works AND plays within the city limits 'doesn't count' because they choose to play soccer, rather than basketball or hockey. But sometimes, sports media in Washington make this really difficult to avoid discussing.

Witness today's announcement of a new practice facility for the Washington Wizards/new arena for the Washington Mystics. Lost in the delirium was the fact that when it came to funding for this $55 million project, only $5 million of it would be coming from Wizards (and Washington Capitals) owner Ted Leonsis, with another $10 million in "redevelopment and community philanthropic investments."

Now we're aware enough to know our place in the pecking order. We know that if and when the football team that plays outside the beltway expresses a desire to have a home in the District, the Mayor and City Council will have bought drinks, dinner and a hotel room for their prospective suitors, metaphorically speaking. We also know that when it comes to projects, a 20,000 seat soccer-specific stadium for D.C. United was understandably more complicated both in exercise and practice than a 5,000 seat practice/real game/multi-purpose venue.

Still, we do get a kick out of the fact that a guy who wrote this about the stadium 10 months ago, is tweeting this today:

We also got a kick out of the outrage of many Joe and Jane Six Packs, when asking their thoughts about the D.C. United stadium, said that public funds should not be used for Buzzard Point, full stop. That a portion of these folks on the street would do this while wearing Washington Nationals hats (a team and a sporting league that bullied the City into building the nicest of facilities, cost be damned), either shows a fair amount of cognitive dissonance, chutzpah, or both.

But since the soccer stadium deal has passed, and the District is currently working with Akridge on securing the last parcel of land so that construction can begin, let us reiterate something that even Mayor Bowser seemed to forget even three months ago when discussing 'mega-rich super owners': D.C. will be paying for the costs of Buzzard Point land (that they're acquiring) and infrastructure before turning it over to the team, and the team will be paying for the costs of building a stadium.

I'll repeat for emphasis: D.C United is paying for the costs of building the stadium. If anyone wants D.C. United to pay for the land costs, then D.C. United should have control of the land. If nobody wants to do that, then we are pretty much at the deal that is being followed now. A deal that, I might add, seems to be a bit better for the City and taxpayers than the potentially less than 30 percent of the money that Leonsis is fitting the bill for with this facility, which is creating half as many permanent jobs than Buzzard Point (albeit almost double the construction jobs), if press releases on both are to be believed.

We like Ted Leonsis, and we like the Capitals and Wizards. However, claiming that this new practice facility will spur economic growth in the area should be met with the same type of skepticism that was met with Buzzard Point, to say nothing of the deal Leonsis is getting with dropping a dime in the bucket of the City coffers. While we don't expect this skepticism to occur, we hope it will so that some shred intellectual honesty is not forsaken.