Private Funding And Ticket Sales
If you have not seen the Washington Times article about the possibility of private funding for the stadium, you should read it. It's funny how the Moonie paper's coverage of the Nationals has been as good or better than the Post's coverage. There are two items I would like to highlight and discuss:
Natwar Gandhi, the District's chief financial officer, likely will certify at least two of eight offers of private financing for a new ballpark in Southeast, paving the way for the city to meet its target of funding half the hard construction costs with private money.
At this point, I would like to point out that if one of the plans is the ">parking proposal (i.e., a special parking district), that's really not "private financing" or "private funding." All that would be is a new tax (on parking), the receipts of which the city essentially assigns to a private party for an up front payment. They just don't call it a tax. The sale-leaseback idea, i.e., the tax avoidance scenario also is not private financing or funding. What that plan would be is to create a tax loss for investors that takes tax revenue out of the federal government. The "funding" in that instance comes from the federal government rather than the DC governmnet. That, of course, makes it an interesting and perhaps poetic proposal.
The lower deck is nearly sold out through sales of full season tickets. Tomorrow is the deadline for full season ticket holders to pay off their outstanding balances.
The Nationals have sold more than 18,000 season tickets. At this point last year, that sum would have been 12th best in major league baseball, said Kevin Uhlich, the club's chief operating officer. The total also translates to a paid attendance of nearly 1.5 million for 2005, better than any of the Montreal Expos' final eight seasons in Quebec.
That the lower bowl has been nearly sold out with 18,000 season tickets is impressive in its own right. But if RFK's seating capacity is 56,000, does that really mean that 36,000 seats are in the upper deck? That seems like an extraordinary ratio for any stadium.
The 12th-best season ticket base is also encouraging. The Nationals are likely to be surprised by the number of partial season packages that are purchased. My bet is that that popularity of such packages in Baltimore will encourage like purchases in Washington and that the Nats will go into the 2005 with 24,000 or more full-season-equivalent tickets sold. That would virtually guarantee 2 million in attendance this year, shattering previous DC records. Indeed, 3 million in attendance may be in reach. Good grief, they even drew 2.5 in Tampa during the Devil Rays' first season.