When they first arrived in town, the Washington Nationals were so gung ho about getting out of RFK Stadium and having the city build them a brand new $611 million ballpark. And now the team is showing their appreciation of having a new taxpayer-funded home by refusing to pay any rent.
The WASHINGTON POST reports that the Nats have not paid any of the $3.5 million in rent they owe to D.C. In fact, Ted Lerner & Co. are actually demanding money from the district - about $100,000 a day in damages.
Why the financial fighting? The Nats say their new stadium is incomplete.
The fight centers on whether the ballpark was “substantially complete” by March 1, when the city, which oversaw the construction, was contractually obligated to hand the keys to the Lerners.
District officials said the city secured a certificate of occupancy, as well as an additional letter from the architects, that declared the building fit for business before the season began.
Even though parts of the new stadium were completed in phases, the ballpark was all set & ready to go by the time of George W. Bush’s first pitch. Well, at least the most important areas were done:
Construction officials said all the revenue-generating portions of the ballpark were completed well before Opening Day. Under their deal with the city, the Nationals receive all of the profits from food, drinks and other items sold.
But the team says there’s still more work to be done before they consider ballpark construction finished:
A “punch list” of hundreds of items remains incomplete, according to team officials. More than 100 construction workers are still at the stadium during off-days, a source close to the Lerners said.
Such frugality from the Nats is not such a shock when you learn that the club also tried to get the city to pay for the team’s uniforms.
It appears that the Washington Nationals and the District of Columbia will be at a monetary impasse for a while. It’s so surprising that a sports owner would be so money-grubbing.
What if D.C. doesn’t bow to Lerner’s financial demands? Well, he can always take the team back to Montreal.