Editorial: Baseball’s back

With a bevy of baseball clich?s, Mayor Anthony Williams marked the return of baseball to Washington, D.C. after a 33-year absence at a press conference Wednesday at the City Museum. Many students and District residents are justifiably exuberant about baseball’s return; a new ball club offers more choices in an already burgeoning catalogue of social outlets in the city. While a new baseball team in Washington is ultimately beneficial for students, it is important not to blindly accept the rhetoric of Major League Baseball and the city.
The District is in constant competition with its suburbs as to where the center of nightlife, businesses and other recreational outlets reside. The relocation of a baseball franchise, with the construction of a new stadium and assorted businesses around it, will no doubt give surrounding residents a compelling reason to travel into the District and aid it in its quest to become a 24-hour city. These benefits also will be tangible for students, who will enjoy the ability to take a short Metro ride, watch a game and return to campus in time to socialize at night.
While the return of baseball to D.C. means great things for students, there are some notable concerns about the new plan. Although the District itself contends that no direct tax burden will be levied on D.C. residents, the financing plan for the stadium may place an economic strain on low-income families, prohibiting them from enjoying the new ballpark. In addition to bond sales and a tax on the wealthiest businesses in D.C., the stadium financing plans call for a tax on tickets and concessions. While an extra few dollars on a ticket or a hotdog might not represent a significant expense to upper-middle class patrons, it could be a prohibitive cost for many District residents. And if the taxes come up short of covering expenses, say, due to poor attendance, the city may be left with a hefty portion of the bill – taking away funds that are desperately needed elsewhere.
On the whole, a relocated baseball franchise to D.C. is a positive development for area residents. It is important that the national pastime have a place in the nation’s capitol. However, it is also important that the need to serve District taxpayers best does not get lost in the euphoria of the moment.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.