Council Chair Cropp wants RFK site

Updated: November 8, 2004, 7:15 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Mayor Anthony A. Williams predicted Monday he has enough votes in the District of Columbia Council to approve financing for a ballpark for the Expos in the location agreed to in the team's contract to relocate to the capital.

The Council plans to vote Tuesday, and seven votes are needed for approval.

Council Chair Linda Cropp, saying the site south of the Capitol along the Anacostia River waterfront would be too costly, proposed an alternative plan Friday to construct a stadium next to RFK Stadium. The Expos' contract with Washington calls for financing to be enacted by Dec. 31 and does not allow a change in site without the team's approval.

Williams gathered 20 business leaders at a news conference to demonstrate support for his proposal for a $435 million stadium.

"When it comes to jobs, when it comes to development, when it comes to urban revitalization, this is the site," Williams said, adding that the RFK site wouldn't bring the same benefits. "It will lift up an entire section of our city."

The mayor said officials from the baseball commissioner's office, which operates the Expos on behalf of the other 29 teams, told him that the RFK site would be a deal-breaker. Robert Peck, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, echoed Williams.

"The RFK site was discussed in the negotiations with Major League Baseball, and it was rejected," Peck said. "This is not a new idea."

But that did not stop Cropp.

"I feel strongly about bringing baseball into this town and making our tax base suffer when there are other ways to do it," Cropp said Monday. But she acknowledged that she does not have the votes to pass her plan and that baseball prefers the waterfront site.

Cropp said about 80 percent of the city's smaller businesses have problems with the mayor's proposal to create a gross receipts tax. She also believes that she is providing a service by bringing attention to problems that the mayor hasn't addressed.

"I am not trying to kill baseball," Cropp said. "If he (Williams) does have the votes, I think I have still accomplished an awful lot."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press