Conflict hit yesterday as the Washington Nationals asked District Mayor Vincent Gray for a large sum of cash to pay for a new roof. The roof, which still remains in the blueprints, is estimated at a coast of $300 million, and would come out of taxpayers pockets. However, while the Nationals pay $5.5 million annually for the triple deck ball park, the District is the one who owns it … wouldn’t it make sense to have them pay for their own park?
Mark Segraves of NBC Washington cites that multiple sources told News 4 that the team approached many district officials regarding an addition of the retractable roof, including the offices of Mayor Gray.
If the District agrees, it wouldn’t be a first for D.C. to fish over taxpayer money for sporting arenas. In 2006, just a year after changing ownership, taxpayers forked over $700 million for the new ball park. Again, earlier this year, the Mayor introduced spending hundreds of millions in the building of a soccer stadium for the D.C. United.
Recently, the Council approved the spending of taxpayer money, $50 million, to improve the city’s hockey stadium, Verizon Center, which now includes a Jumbotron.
The Nationals now hope to do the same, but according to the Washington Post, a one-on-one interview revealed that Mayor Gray is not willing to spend taxpayer dollars on a new roof for the team.
“What Lerner wanted to talk about was the possibility of a roof on Nationals Park,” the mayor said. “That was it. There was no discussion about how much it was going to cost and no further details. I’ve had no further discussions.”
“The mayor was polite but unequivocal,” a D.C. official said. “We are not going to spend taxpayer money to put a roof on the stadium, regardless of the cost.”
Both sides are denying to comment on the current standing of the situation any further. But it is becoming almost a certainty that the D.C. will dive into taxpayers pockets and fork over the $300 million for the roof.
With an average attendance of over 30,000, the Nationals accumulate over $81 million a year, but with salaries for players and payrolls for workers, it’s doubtful they have the $300 million stashed away. For now, they will continue to hope a council will fish over the estimated price, or they can say goodbye to a roof. And where temperatures can stoop below freezing and hard rain can commence at any given time, it may pay to have a retractable setting over the ball park.