Washington baseball’s Xanadu is almost 15 months away from its debut and optimism from the Nationals seems as high as the Washington Monument.
Saturday’s Washington Post had an A1 story, so you know it’s kind of a big deal, about the new stadium’s progress.
Want to know where the money the Nationals are saving on payroll is going? I’ll give you one guess.
The Lerners are expected to spend at least $30 million out of their own pockets in stadium upgrades according to Tom Boswell’s story. Such improvements include
doubling the size of the outfield restaurant, installing sliding doors and bathrooms in the club suites and upgrading the main scoreboard to feature highlight in HD.
Of course, the Lerner will make their money back through stadium advertising revenue. I also expect the fans to pay higher ticket prices and food prices as a result.
The DC City Government is pleased, obviously, because they don’t have to put anymore of their public funds into the new place ($611 million is enough).
The stadium is running on schedule and on budget. The stadium is one-third completed and includes a 100-foot high grandstand in right field. The stadium’s structure is slated to be completed by July 4.
A project director for the new stadium said that the stadium is “going to get finished on time. There’s no choice.” That line worries me. I hope this doesn’t translate into rushing the job or cutting corners to meet a deadline-that makes it worse.
If all goes right and the stadium looks nice, passes inspection and meets codes, then a tip of the hat is in order. When the stadium project started, I thought 2008 was a pipe dream especially with the whole trouble getting the stadium approved. I was expecting 2009. The only noticeable squabble about the stadium project came from the type of parking garages that were to be built and that’s been resolved.
Global warming might be helping the builders stay on schedule. Right now, the thought of a snowstorm is about as prevalent at a Nationals 2007 playoff berth.
“If we don’t get terrible snow or freezing rain in the next 70 days, we’re going to be in very, very good shape,” said Mark Lerner, son of principal owner Theodore N. Lerner, in the Post story.
Speaking of the 2007 Nationals, the following quote in the Post is all you need to know about next season’s priorities.
“The team’s ownership believes that spending on the new park and on player development should take almost complete priority over the 2007 payroll. ‘We’ll get through next season somehow. And we may not be as bad as people think,’ one team source said. ‘Then, ‘08 will be a whole new world.’”
I’d like to break down the above quote
a) We’ll get through next season somehow. Somehow? I’m bothered by that line. Somehow is vague. That sounds like a total phoning it in line. Sure, I know next year isn’t going to be too pretty on the field. Say “we’ll get through next season by concentrating on our younger players and continuing to grow the franchise through players such Ryan Zimmerman and Chad Cordero. We’ll continue to become more of a presence in the community in preparation for the 2008 season.” It might be lame line but it’s better than somehow.
b) We might not be as bad as people think. People are thinking the Nationals are going to be bad. Right now, I see no evidence to state otherwise. When Nationals fans are hoping that Chris Snelling stays healthy so he can finally have his breakout year, that’s not too good.
c) Whole new world. My concern is that the Nationals will try to get 2008 players at 2007 prices, which might be old news this time next year. This past offseason market has been a huge one for free agents and I expect salaries to increase in the future. The Nationals followers have sat back and bit their fingernails as free agents switched teams as “The Plan” unfolded. Will 2007’s “The Plan” be 2008’s “Forget about 2007?”
If the Nats offer a wild amount of money on average free agents then all talk of sitting by and developing younger players will be hogwash. Washington might have no choice on this front especially with the amount of money MLB has coming in because of record revenues, attendances, TV and XM Deals. If the bidding wars begin, Washington should make sure they have money ready to overspend if needed.
I can’t fault the Lerners for trying to pull out the stops for a great stadium. Every new stadium built should be the best stadium in baseball and maybe Walter Johnson Field at XMirius Stadium will be that one. I remember when Camden Yards opened in 1992. While that team was competitive but not playoff caliber, people did go to the stadium just for the newness and originality of the place. Will the Nationals new stadium have that effect? Time will tell.