Loose Lips

Those Greedy, Greedy Nats

The Washington Nationals, one of the District's biggest corporate welfare recipients, sure are one greedy ballclub. WTOP's Mark Segraves had the scoop yesterday that the Nats want the city to pick up the tab for Metro when games run late and the club's fans want to get home using public transportation.

Segraves reports that other pro teams, including the Capitals, Wizards, and Redskins, pay for late Metro use. The city used to pay for Metro to run after late Nats games in past years, but the Post is reporting that city officials are disinclined to cover the $30,000-an-hour Metro costs for baseball now. The team, by the way, is having a great season and looks to be playoff-bound, as they've got the best record in the major leagues and it's late August already.

Let's take a moment to consider how insanely greedy the request that taxpayers foot the Metro bill is. This request is coming from a business that wouldn't even have a stadium to play in were it not for the forced generosity of the District's corporate taxpayers. To finance the Nats' stadium, the city had to take out more than $500 million in bonds. To pay for those bonds, the city instituted a gross-receipts tax (an insanely unfair type of tax) on businesses making more than $5 million a year. (That's not profit, that's just total receipts. So a business that makes $5 million in revenues but only $1,000 in profit pays the tax, while a company that made $4 million in revenues with $3.9 million in profit would not.)

The city then takes a cut of the utility taxes paid by every non-residential taxpayer (including the same businesses that have ponied up the gross-receipts tax) and puts that toward paying off the bonds. And then the city collects rent from the Nats and has a special sales tax for stadium-related purchases (tickets, merchandise, etc.). LL is awaiting the most recent data, but in past years the tax on businesses and utilities—i.e. businesses with nothing to do with baseball—have ponied up the lion's share of money to pay the stadium bond, while the club's rent has paid a fraction of the overall cost. A 2008 projection from the CFO's office had the gross-receipts and utility taxes bringing in more than $30 million to pay for the bond in 2012, while the Nationals only pay $5 million to lease the stadium.

It's also worth noting that the interest on the bonds will take the total cost of the stadium close to the $1 billion mark, almost none of which will be paid by the ballclub. In 2012, the city paid $31 million toward the ballpark bond, $27 million of which went toward interest payments. The city is projected to pay $446 million in interest on the bonds over 30 years, but Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans said recently that the city's on pace to pay off the bonds after only 17 years, which would reduce the amount of interest paid somewhat (the interest payments are frontloaded, much like your mortgage.)

A representative for the Nats did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update: Here's the breakdown of the revenues collected to pay for the ballpark, courtesy of the CFO's office. In the last seven years, revenues from the gross-receipts tax on businesses and utility taxes (i.e. those things unrelated to baseball) come out to nearly $250 million, while the baseball-related sales tax and rent paid at the stadium comes to $82.5 million.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Comments

  1. #1

    Why am I not surprised that the Nats get so much in corporate welfare? It always upsets me how cities will just about sell their soul in order to get professional sports. Professional sports are for-profit entities, and so I see no reason that these guys shouldn't be required to pay their own way just like the rest of us do. I would have been satisfied if the District would have stuck to its guns and made sure that the team pays for itself for the most part, even if it meant losing the team to another city, because it would have at least meant that the city had the principles to prevent Big Sports from looting their treasury.

  2. #2

    How disgusting. I was against the tax payers footing the bill, especially since Abe Pollin and his team was about to build a basketball stadium using private funds -- and help spark a renaissance in the Gallery Place-Chinatown neighborhood. All the Lerners' and their cronies have done is bulldoze that area and left random empty lots and half-fill condo buildings (and where do these people go to shop?!).

  3. #3

    Here's a solution: The city council passes legislation requiring the Nats to pay cab fare home for every fan who takes metro to a game, but gets stranded after games that run late. Or, shut down Nats games 30 minutes before metro stops running.

    Pretty sure Nats would cough up the dough to keep metro open.

  4. #4

    Stop bitching and go watch the best baseball team in the world.

  5. #5

    One point -- the Caps play half as many home games, the Redskins even less.

    Still, the cost of extra metro to the Nats is tiny compared to the deal they're getting on the stadium. If the Nats paid for an extra hour of Metro service for every home game (let's say 80 of them) it would cost them $2.4 million, right? That's more than Rick Ankiel's contract.

  6. #6

    CFO says you gave us a broken link:

    "Our site was recently updated and we cannot locate the URL that you have requested. Your bookmarks and favorites may not be correct.
    From Server: ODC2VMDSF210"

    That "404" message appears at this link, embedded in graf five.

  7. #7
  8. #8

    details are on the page marked 98 of this PDF at the CFO's website:

    http://cfo.dc.gov/cfo/frames.asp?doc=/cfo/lib/cfo/cafr/2011/notes_--_basic_financial_statements.pdf

  9. #9

    (took the ULR out of my post)

    Table 28 on page 98 of the FY 2011 notes to financial statements gives the remaining lifetime cost of the Ballpark Revenue Bonds, and there is no evidence (none) to support Jack Evans's propaganda that those bonds will be paid off in "17 years." The table shows principal and interest due for each year from FY 2012 through FY 2036. Total debt service still owing on those bonds is $958.9 million. That's IN ADDITION to the $164.7 million shown in LL's table at the end of the article.

  10. Stay open late always
    #10

    The Metro should really stay open late every day. The city doesn't shut down at midnight, why does public transportation? Public transit in the DC area is really a joke compared to other major cities.

  11. #11

    I love the baseball team, but seriously fuck these people. Pay for the goddam metro and act like you give a shit about the City. It's pocket change for these people. Hell, Jayson Werth could pay for it on his own without thinking twice.

  12. #12

    Nice how LL turns a discussion about the cost of late-night Metro into a rehash of the council's 2006 decision to fund the stadium. The reality is that it has been built, the city issued bonds to pay for it, the bonds are being paid off, and the stadium has jumpstarted development in near southeast. And while some of the businesses and utilities that are being tapped for revenue may "have nothing to do with baseball," many of them will benefit in the long run from a rejuvenated city that continues to develop and thrive. It's the old adage, "A rising tide lifts all boats."

    Plus, the Nats have a great young team that is kicking ass, which is bringing a sense of pride, unity, and enthusiasm to the city. You can't put a pricetag on that.

    So to the naysayers, including LL -- get over it.

  13. #13

    Sorry Mistr Knucklz,

    As someone who started a biz here in DC (for which DC gov has been a hindrance,not help) that is on track to have to pay gross receipts tax this year, I've got to disagree with your "many will benefit" comment.

    Other than real estate and restaurants, I've not met anyone who thinks the stadium helps their business. Don't let a real estate boom blind you to the bigger picture.

    It's great for fans, but believe me it's a big issue for companies. Hate to say it, but it's definitely making folks consider moving to VA.

  14. #14

    @Bbh: Well move then. Up to this point, most of the fans lived outside of DC anyway. "Enough will benefit" from the Pride, Unity and Enthusiasm Mr. Knucklz speaks about and that alone will make fans of more and more DC residents.

    In the recent political climate, that is worth much more than failed business owners who consider the city a hindrance. If you stick around long enough, maybe the toll gates will hit you where the dogs shoulda bit you.

  15. #15

    YO BIGBOB LET THE DOOR KNOB HIT YA
    WHERE THE GOOD LORD SPLIT YA
    ON YOUR WAY TO STANKASS VIRGINYA

    THIS PIECE BY SEWERMAN IS NOTHING MORE THAN HIM HATING ON THE NATS IN HIS WACK ASS BACKDOOR WAY. TAXES, STADIUM DEAL, BONDS, AND CONTRACTS ETC. WERE NEGOTIATED, SIGNED AND RATIFIED. SO WHY THE REHASH??? WHAT HAS THAT GOT TO DO WITH THE METRO KERFUFFEL? HOW IS THIS GREED? FROM THE READ IT LOOKS LIKE HE GOT ALL IN HIS FEELINGS AND LET IT GET IN THE WAY OF HIS HATIN EVERYTHING D.C. HACKERY.

    SEWERMAN THIS BACK-UP OF RAW SEWAGE YOU ARE SUBMITTING IS GETTING OLD AND TIRED. IT IS GETTING TO THE POINT THAT EVERYTIME I GAZE UPON YOUR COLUMN I FEEL LIKE A HOMEOWNER FROM 1ST STREET AND RHODE ISLAND AVE N.W. AFTER A MAJOR RAIN STORM. NOTHING IS UPLIFTING COMING FROM YOU. WHEN HAVE YOU PRAISED ANY GOOD TIDINGS OF AND FROM MY CITY?

    YOUR LOOSE LIPS ELOCUTION IS NOTHING MORE THAN FODDER TO PRODUCE BULLSHIT HOMEY. YOU CAN’T TALK ABOUT MY NATS PLAY ON THE DIAMOND ‘CAUSE WE BALLIN’ SO YOU COME UP WITH SPREADSHEETS, NUMBERS, FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND ASSININE OPINIONS TO DENIGRATE THE SUCCESS OF THIS TEAM. SLIM IF THAT IS ALL YOU GOT THEN THAT AIN’T MUCH.

    noodlez
    WASHINGTON NATIONALS FAN FOR LIFE.

  16. #16

    uh, i like how all of a sudden everyone is a Nats fan. to paraphrase the philosopher, Drake...you wasnt on the bandwagon when nyjer morgan was in the lineup

  17. #17

    Jon: A FAN IS A FAN IS A FAN IS A FAN IS A FAN IS A FAN.
    You'd be surprised how many Nat's fans there are in DC.
    Some of them are too infirm or to impoverished to buy tickets to attend the games, but the watch and listen to the games. When we were young and before TV (Watch out now!), we'd huddle under the covers with a transistor radio and listen to the old Senators playing on the road when we should have been fast asleep. Learned how to keep statistics too. That probably helped a lot in our Math classes.

    Juar like that silent majority which won't let WaPo tell them for whom they should vote.

    Know what um sayin'?

  18. #18

    ...but 'they' watch and listen.......

    'Just' like that silent majority......

  19. Greed is not good
    #19

    Everyone connected to this team are greed-heads. Except the taxpayers who foot the bill for the stadium. Lerners are asshole real estate developers used to getting their way. Everyone in Washington is greedy, and we pay the tab.

  20. #20

    Look at Noodlez using a big word like elocution in the same sentence as homey. Just like your posts always being in all CAPS, everything you do is classy Noodlez.

    I think that the Nats using taxpayer funds to build their stadium is relevant when reporting that the Nats also don't want to pay for transportation to and from the games. They don't want to pay for anything.

  21. #21

    @POUND-WHAT THE FUCK??? I DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO PRAISE YOU FOR THE 1ST HALF OF YOUR COMMENT AND SAY THANK YOU OR SCORN YOU AND TALK ABOUT HOW FREAKY AND NASTY YOUR MOTHER WAS IN THE ALLEY BEHIND LOUIS THE ROGUE LAST NIGHT. I'M SO CONFUSED!

    HOMEY SCROMEY WHAT DOES A TAXPAYER FUNDED STADIUM HAVE TO DO WITH METRO (THE 2ND WORSE ORGANIZATION OPERATING IN DC BEHIND PEPCO) STAYING OPEN LATER TO SERVE PAYING CUSTOMERS?

    CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG BUT WMATA GETS A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF THEIR ANNUAL REVENUE FROM TAXPAYERS AND I'M SURE W.D.C. PAYS THE MAJORITY OF THAT AMOUNT. METRO SHOULD'VE TAKEN ONE FOR THE PROVERBIAL TEAM BY STAYING OPEN LATER ONCE THEY REALIZED THE GAME WASN'T OVER.

    @JON-I WAS HUGE NYJER FAN WHEN HE WAS HERE. I STILL RESPECT HIS PLAY BUT SLIM HAD TO GO BECAUSE HE WAS TRIPPIN.

  22. #22

    Everyone is missing the point! This is a customer service issue. The Nats are going to the playoffs, and the postseason games will go past midnight. So, the team needs to make sure their fans have options available in case Metro won't say open. The last thing the team needs are having being stuck being a rock (leaving a game early and missing a win) and a hard place (not being stuck in DC after the game is done).

  23. #23

    This is why Jack Evans will NEVER be Mayor. He is a clown that can only win in Ward 2!!

  24. #24

    Ahhhh RtD, I think I understand what you're saying, but being 'stuck' in DC???? So ya'll come to the game like a hit and run?

    Stay a while, check into one of the nearby hotels, leave some revenue instead of utilizing all of the benefits of WDC and spending your money elsewhere. You'll be surprised; you might even like it. WE DO, in spite of all the hardship, lack of representation and sense of entitlement exhibited by quite a few of our citizens.

    I don't know who should pay for the transportation. Maybe Metro should stay open and raise the fares. If people don't want to pay extra, they should stay TF home or drive using car pooling. Ya'll don't seem to have a problem getting into and leaving DC for work.

    The DC population more than doubles daily with tourists and outsiders working in the city. A lot of the businesses who take advantage of this daily spike also take the money they earn and spend it elsewhere.

    D.C.'s infrastructure and emergency services take a hit 364 days a year. We may get a break on Xmas Day.

    Gettin STUCK in DC???? Give me a F***** break. STAY HOME!!!!!

  25. #25

    If the Lerner family was poor and black, with all the welfare dollars spent on it, conservatives across the area would be screaming WELFARE QUEENS to the high heavens.

    Pieces of shit.

  26. #26

    "WHAT DOES A TAXPAYER FUNDED STADIUM HAVE TO DO WITH METRO (THE 2ND WORSE ORGANIZATION OPERATING IN DC BEHIND PEPCO) STAYING OPEN LATER TO SERVE PAYING CUSTOMERS?"

    Ahh, case closed:

    A TAXPAYER FUNDED STADIUM HAS TO DO WITH METRO STAYING OPEN LATER TO SERVE PAYING CUSTOMERS!

    Thanks doodles!!

  27. #27

    20011: Is this the same Lerner family that ran the Lerner's Dept Stores until the riots? If so, their merchandise were pieces of shit too.

  28. #28

    When will the playahs pay taxes for all the benjamins they be makin in DeeCee like they do when they be playin in other playces?

    Those po rich guys wit they ridiculously priced tickets to watch grown men prance around in tights toss around a little ball of leather and rubber and hit it with they oversized metal and wooden dildos, charge absurdly high prices for mainly junk food and beer. Watch it at home and save the extra cash. Feed yo kids good food and save for their college education. Let them charge the rich corporate teevee advertisers from all across the country and stop gouging DeeCee residents.

  29. #29

    Sure is a lot of anger out there.

    What about asking the players to show their appreciation to the fans and have them pass the hat in the dug out?

    Surely they'd be able to come up with the money to keep the metro open late.

  30. #30

    @NOODLEZ, for 2012 WMATA is getting $628 million from local taxpayers. $251 million is coming from Maryland, $235 million from DC, and $142 million from Virginia. So, DC is not contributing a majority, or even the largest portion, although it is contributing the most per capita.

    I don't see why DC should take on the burden of paying to keep Metro open later after games. If it's not the team's responsibility, it should be Maryland or Virginia that does it -- most of the fans live in the suburbs to begin with, and a lot of the DC fans don't need Metro to get home. If you live in Navy Yard, Anacostia, Southwest, Barracks Row, Eastern Market, or Capitol Hill, for example, you can just walk. I do.

  31. #31

    @MINUS-SO MD AND VA SHOULD PONY UP $12,5K A PIECE AND DC $5K TO ACCOMMODATE THOSE FOLK WHO PLAN ON DRINKING, WHO RIDE IN ON METRO AND TOURIST WHO WANT TO GO TO A GAME. OR THE STATE OF MD AND THE STATE OF VA CAN PAY A COMMUTER TAX THAT COULD SOMEHOW OFFSET COSTS.

    DC OR NATS SHOULD NOT BE FOOTING BILL TO METRO TO MAKE SURE MD AND VA FOLKS GET HOME SAFELY. NOR SHOULD HATIN' ASS COLUMNISTS PLACE BLAME WHERE IT ISN'T DUE.

  32. #32

    Sorry. If we have any councilmembers with balls, they can tell the Nats to pony up the $30,000/hour for THEIR customers. The Lerners are notoriously cheap. The Nats will look ridiculous and incur the wrath of the paying fans, not DC city government.
    ANY other event that SOLELY causes Metro to need to run overtime would have to pay the OT costs if it wanted the system running after hours.

  33. #33

    gNats?
    Maybe fun for fans or those with a peice of the action.
    For the rest they're naught but an annoyance.

  34. #34

    @ noodlez:

    Win or lose, the Nats have more than enough cash to pay for their fans to get home from the game, no matter where they're coming from.

    Here's hoping we're still having this discussion after they win Game 4 of the World Series to complete a sweep.

  35. #35

    MM:

    Now that's the coolest statement I've ever heard from you,
    but not if they're coming from Washington state from whence one of our firefighter formerly communted.

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