District of Columbia, MLB reach revised agreement

Updated: January 27, 2006, 7:52 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The District of Columbia and Major League Baseball agreed Friday on a revised lease for a Washington Nationals baseball stadium.

The District of Columbia Sports and Entertainment Commission and the baseball commissioner's office had been negotiating a new deal since last month, when the D.C. Council failed to vote on the previous agreement.

Council Chair Linda W. Cropp said she had not seen details of the new deal but said if the agreement meets the concerns of council members, she would schedule a vote for Feb. 7.

In a letter this month to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, Cropp said the Council wanted a cap on construction and land acquisition costs at the $535 million approved for the project last year. Recent estimates have put the cost at about $667 million.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, declined comment. Baseball filed for mediation after the District of Columbia failed to approve a deal by the Dec. 31 deadline.

Friday's agreement did not address construction costs, which are being negotiated with the three construction firms, city officials said. In return, the construction firms will get control of the project from the city.

The deal would allow the city to recoup some of its costs by selling development rights to land around the stadium.

The agreement also requires the Nationals to pay half their normal rent for RFK Stadium if the new ballpark is not completed by spring 2008. The team is not required to pay rent past the 2007 season under the original lease. Baseball also has agreed to give the city more community benefits, including 10,000 free tickets each year for disadvantaged youth.

The lease agreement also obligates the team to work with the sports commission and other D.C. charitable groups to develop a dedicated year-round baseball training and recreational facility in the city.

Major League Baseball won't select new owner for the Nationals until the council approves a lease. The franchise is owned by the other 29 clubs.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press