However, the Board voted 4-1 to keep its options open, and stated it will send a letter to the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority expressing its continued interest. Chairman Hunter indicated the letter would state that the Board has not reached a conclusion whether it wants to have the stadium in Arlington. Board members generally indicated that it would be a mistake not to answer all the questions, before finalizing their decision on whether or not to pursue the stadium in Arlington. For our members information, the following are the highlights of the Board members closing statements on this matter.
Board Member Zimmerman: "... I want to talk a little about the economic development, because we've heard a lot about that in testimony last week. And I think that it is important to understand that while there is some potential benefit in terms of economic benefit, it is also fairly clear if you look at the bulk of studies that have been done, not advocacy research done by people seeking public funds to subsidize an activity, but the more balanced academic research that has been done on this-- that the impact is minor, measurable, but minor.
One study referred to it as about the same as a department store, and that raises the question of just how much you really want to consider subsidizing something like this. One letter we received said that whatever is done for baseball should be no more than we would do to attract any other business activity and I agree with that. And whether or not we do everything possible, meaning everything other localities or states do to attract a baseball team, should not be set up as a test of our commitment to economic development. And that is something that I hope is not lost in this. How big of an economic development boom would this be?
Well, apart from the studies which I think question all that big a deal, I have to note that the major economic players in the area in which this would be located, who presumably would be the ones to benefit most, have not embraced the idea. Smith company apparently opposes it and I think they own more real estate in Crystal City than anybody else. Pentagon City is not exactly jumping to offer parking up. And so, I think there is a real question as to whether there really are substantial economic development benefits to be gained from this.
And yet, it is offered not just this one, but every time a major league baseball franchise or football, NFL proposal comes forward is offered on terms that are not in anyway parallel by any other business venture. We don't have any other business coming here and saying, we like to locate in your County, now please buy us a piece of property, build us a facility, float bonds against the public trust, and pay them off so that we may have it rent free or no tax. And those are the terms on which major league sports franchises locate now, everywhere, with minor variations but not major variations. That is the deal and we can tweak a little this way or that way, you can shift a million here, a million there, but in the end that is how major league franchises are won and located. They can ask for it and they get it. The public involvement that is necessary to bring this thing off in the end is way beyond what we would ever do for any other business.
When another business or developer comes to us, we don't offer them fees, we make them pay fees. We don't absorb all of the predevelopment costs, they absorb the predevelopment costs. And then you add the capital expenditure, the operating subsidy, and we certainly don't talk about abating taxes to the point that sales or income taxes generated by their activity, go back to subsidize that activity. And yet is it simply not conceivable that we will win this contest without that kind of price. Because that's the price they go for. Now that speaks to the chance that we would want it for me. Because whether we would want it depends on part of how much it would cost to get it. And I'm convinced what it would cost to get it is more than any of us would be willing to pay.
Now there are other unresolved problems that also affect whether we would want it and they've been mentioned and I won't go over them all. They involve things like the parking and the airport issues. I will say I think there are two kinds of air issues that we're waiting on. The FAA will address effectively one half of them. The air safety question, does the stadium effect the safety of aircraft themselves, and we've heard things like lights, electronics and other things we've mentioned. They can answer that to some degree.
There is also the other side of that which is ground safety which to what extent does the presence of this activity, as close as it would be to the runway have a safety issue that I'm not sure that the FAA is going to completely address. There are the noise questions which apparently we can have extensive arguments about. And then there's the question about the authority itself, whether the selection process has any hope of being fair. I think Mr. Eisenberg asked some questions about when the composition of the authority would change. It seems to me from the answers that it likely doesn't change until they've awarded it, which doesn't help us out very much.
But the authority bothers me also not just because of the questions whether we would get a fair hearing, but also they are the authority that is going to operate this stadium afterwards. And even though we are told we would get four representatives on the authority, what that means that four people who have their residences in this County would sit on the authority. That's different--Arlington County is not going to have a representative. These are going to be gubernatorial appointees, and who they are will depend on who's elected governor. Who's not necessarily somebody who lives here and I have questions about whether or not we would have the kind of influence over such a big presence in the community that we would want. Would we have a chance to get it?
Well, in addition to the question about whether the authority would really be looking fairly at any proposal we made if we knew we wanted it there is the question about baseball. I think it's been correctly observed again by Mr. Eisenberg and I believe by others, it maybe ultimately, it may be baseball's choice and necessarily the authority's. But what's the evidence there? Where's baseball? The first time we talked about this, no one was here from either Major League Baseball, the authority, or the Virginia Baseball Club. The last time we had the hearing, we did have someone here from the Virginia Baseball Club. How bad do they want to be here? Well, at that time we had just been rejected by the authority for an extension and I asked the gentleman, the Vice President, Mr. Scanlon, about whether he would be willing to go to the authority and simply say, please give Arlington an extension or something like that so that their site can be considered along with others, because it ought to be considered. He wasn't willing to do that.
Tonight, we're here and we've had questions about things like the noise and we're told that unfortunately no one was able to be here tonight from the Virginia Baseball Club. Evidently, there is something more important. I suggest that it is not clear that Major League Baseball or anyone associated with it really thinks this site is so good, that it's such a good deal, that we have a prospect of getting a good deal on our end. When they do, when they want to come to us, that way, then perhaps we are in a stronger position to consider what they might offer. Other things that we've said in the hearing last week and again on Saturday, concerned where the community is. And here I think there are very strong feelings obviously on both sides and I respect that. I think there are good arguments made on both sides. It seems clear to me that the community is very much divided on this. I don't think you can decide this based on overwhelming sentiment on one side or the other. But when I add up the unresolved problems, the potential pluses; and as I said, I have my head warring with my heart. My heart would like to see this be possible. As I said in February, I would like to be wrong about this. I still feel that way. Three months have not led me to think that there's much reason to think that I am wrong on this one. The problems are just as significant now and seem no more likely to be resolved than they did to me in February. And so I can't see expending more resources on this.
I do want to say, that in the course of the hearings, there were many who felt essentially as I do about this in one way or another. Some who were critical of the County for looking at this at all. I want to say that, I think it is very important that we don't try to discourage anybody in this County from looking at exciting possibilities. I think those who have been willing to look at this, whether staff, the community, or here on the Board, should be commended for being willing to be bold. We want that as we look at different possibilities. They won't all work out and in fact if we're going to be bold it means that we're going to look at a lot of things that turn out to be dead ends. But we shouldn't be afraid to look down the road, now and then, along some path that we haven't traveled before. And so I do commend my colleagues and others, who have been willing to pursue this, for their willingness to be bold.
Although I think that in this case they are pursuing a dead end. So I don't think I'm prepared to support going further on this at this time. But if at some point in the future somebody wants to come with a proposal, that is really a proposal, that is we have a business, we like to bring here. We actually have the business, we have some money, and we're interested in operating it in a way that means that the revenues from the venture will pay for the venture and not revenues from the public and I certainly would be willing to consider that at that time. Thank you Mr. Chairman."
Board Member Eisenberg: "Mr. Zimmerman was trained as an economist, I was trained as an historian. History is a great teacher. If we know the history, we are not obligated to repeat it. We have a lot in our control and within that is our decision--whether to go forward or not. I think it would be a great mistake, not having the answers to all the questions for us to drop out of this exercise at this point. I think it would send the worst possible message to the region that Arlington is not a serious player on the economic scene. We're not willing to pursue issues to the point that we receive sufficient data to make conclusive decisions. We lose nothing by sending a letter to the Stadium Authority, we lose no control, we lose absolutely nothing. We do say we have a potential product, we have a site that has attributes, it's there for consideration, but we will not have made a final decision.
I know enough about this site and the prospects for baseball that I want it to be considered. I don't know enough to assure that it can be feasibly done, so I'm not going to prejudge it before we get that information. We owe it to the community, the economic development future of this community to find out what we do not know. We owe it to ourselves to see if the outstanding issues can be worked out to our satisfaction. If they can be, there's every reason to support it. If they can't be, then there's no reason to support it. Right now, many of the objections are actually suppositions. One of the people that testified, who testified, in fact made that point and I thought it was a telling point. You can't really deal in suppositions, even those some may oppose it on that basis. We really can't do that.
With respect to issues raised by the Airport Authority, questions raised by the FAA, I think the noise issues have been at least in part seriously addressed. Perhaps not entirely, but I think there are issues that right now do not particularly concern me. But, I think we need more information on that. The safety issue that has been raised by the Airport Authority, by Mr. Zimmerman, and by others, I'm concerned about that. The Airport Authority has no risk assessment, none. I've asked them for it, they have none. For a facility that would be used 81 days a year, not in inclimate weather, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours at a time, compared to all the other uses in that region that are used most of the time, if not all of the time, including the control tower of the airport itself. What are the comparative risks? We don't know, we need to find out.
With respect to transportation, we have four Metro Stations in the general area. One quite close, we know something about the transportation patterns as Mrs. Bozman has indicated. We don't know everything, we need to find out. With respect to the finances, that's in large measure within our control. We know what we won't pay for. Now the state has been willing to pay for business to come into the state before. They've anteed up substantial amounts of money for different kinds of large manufacturing facilities. They were willing to throw millions of dollars in to the Disney Project. So that the state has a history of doing this kind of thing and if they wish to do that however, they figured that out, that's fine. We do not have a history of doing that. So there's a difference, but I can't rule out one set of financing as opposed to another. We don't know yet, and I think that given our history in this regard, we can look across the table at people and tell them what we'll do and what we won't do and then make a decision based on what's offered to us. So right now, I think we really have an obligation to go forward in this modest manner and let the Stadium Authority know that we have a site that needs to be considered, because I will not and can not base a major decision of this nature on supposition."
Board Member Bozman: "We have an economist and an historian and I kind of forgotten what I was trained in."
Chairman Hunter: "Trained in many things."
Board Member Bozman: "Mostly, public administration. It seems to me what we have before us tonight is a risk free action. And that's why I asked about the process. It seems to me what the Chairman is proposing tonight is that we notify the Stadium Authority, the issues that need to be worked through, let them see what we have done so far. If we don't take any step, I think that we are probably in effect ruling ourselves out of the ballgame. That doesn't come from my degrees but my husband's favorite--he always likes to keep his options open. Now, sometimes I don't agree with this you understand, but I think that's what we do tonight with this motion. It would keep our options opened until we have the information that we need. Now, Mr. Zimmerman has gone over a number of things which would indeed kill any baseball stadium proposal. If the considerations of location, next to National Airport do not work, if we are asked to put in a substantial contribution, any of those in my opinion are just enough to say good bye. This was not of what would work. We don't have the answers to those questions yet. So that's why I asked Mr. Hunter for an explanation of his motion of what is exactly what we would be doing tonight. And what the process would continue to be and I think it would be obviously an open process after we get more information. So I can be comfortable with the motion as it is tonight and then we wait and see what further information brings us, which helps us make a decision whether this would be good for Arlington or not good for Arlington."
Chairman Hunter: "Well, I'm ready to call for a vote on my motion. But I want to make it clear that we have the proper elements in the letter. Do we want to try to solicit a response from the authority?"
Board Member Bozman: "No, we don't need a response."
Chairman Hunter: "So we'll send them what we have and let it sit there. So I'm receipt of your letter, we want to work cooperatively with you. We have some outstanding questions, site has many attributes, and here are the studies that have been performed so far, the two transportation studies, the finance study, the Ad Hoc Committee Report. Are there other major and we'll work on the wording and ask staff to assist with that."
Board Member Ferguson: "We need to detail some of the costs we have incurred in our argument for receiving a credit should we decide to go forward."
Chairman Hunter: "Do you want to do that this time? Or would you rather.."
Board Member Bozman: "I think that is for a later stage. We don't know whether we're going to get to that point."
Chairman Hunter: "Well just be silent on that. That's a tougher argument that we could work on later, if need be. It may be an argument we'll never have to make. They'll get the clue when they see the studies, that there's been a lot of money spent already. And no check would be included, let's make that clear, no check would be included. It's always wise to repeat these things twice. What do you think Board Members-- Anything else you want to include in the letter?"
Board Member Eisenberg: "Sincerely, James B. Hunter, Chairman."
Chairman Hunter: "Yes, that's right. I get to sign it. Thank you Mr. Eisenberg, I really appreciate that opportunity. Any further discussions, comments, questions. All in favor say aye."
For our members information, the report to the County Board consists of 100 pages, including 73 pages of report narrative, tables, and indexes; and 27 pages of appendices. The appendices include: letters from Arlington Commissions, the National Park Service, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Aurora Highlands Civic Association; a resolution from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; and a listing of the principal figures in the Virginia Baseball Limited Company. Also, the appendices include a copy of a letter from Chairman Hunter to David R. Hinson, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, dated May 1, 1996, and a copy of a letter from D.O. Cooke, Director, Administration and Management, Department of Defense, to Congressman James F. Moran.
The report to the County Board states that the Ad Hoc Baseball Stadium Advisory Committee was created by the Arlington County Board on February 6, 1996, to gather information about the feasibility and desirability of constructing a Major League Baseball ("MLB") stadium in Arlington, to sample community sentiment about such a project, and to make a recommendation to the County Board on the feasibility of proposing the Twin Bridges site to the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority. The report's INTRODUCTION section sets forth that the Committee has 18 members, some representing the community at large, others representing specific organizations--the Arlington Ridge Civic Association, the Aurora Highlands Civic Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Arlington County Civic Federation, the Environment and Energy Conservation Commission, the Planning Commission, the Transportation Commission, the Sports Commission, the National Park Service, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Also, the INTRODUCTION states that: (1) the Committee held 12 meetings and two public forums attended by about 300 citizens; (2) a traffic study was prepared for the Committee's use by Wells & Associates, Inc.; and (3) a study of the economic impact of a stadium on Arlington was prepared by Arthur Andersen LLP.
The report's EXECUTIVE SUMMARY states that The Ad Hoc Baseball Stadium Advisory Committee, after 10 weeks of work, makes these findings: The Twin Bridges site does not meet the specifications described as "preferred" in the Request for Proposals ("the RFP") of the Stadium Authority, but it appears to be large enough to accommodate a MLB stadium. (page16) The Stadium Authority thinks of a stadium as a square peg; this site is a round hole.
Because of the site's proximity to National Airport, there are serious questions concerning air safety, noise, and the visual impact of airplanes, that have not been adequately addressed.
The Twin Bridges site cannot provide the amount of dedicated parking specified in the RFP. A combination of new and existing parking spaces may provide parking sufficient for an urban stadium. The Committee had had inadequate time to explore parking options fully, particularly since those which most Committee members believe to be the most attractive involve negotiations with the Pentagon and the owners of garages in office buildings in Crystal City and Pentagon City. Every stadium creates traffic problems. The transportation consultant says traffic impacts which he has studied would be "manageable" but must be actively managed to reduce congestion and keep stadium traffic out of residential neighborhoods. The Committee and consultant have had inadequate time to answer all questions about whether the highways and arterial streets around the Twin Bridges site can accommodate the additional traffic generated by a stadium. One key factor is how many spectators could be persuaded to ride Metro rather than drive, particularly to sold out games.
Construction of a 50,000-seat stadium at any location has a substantial impact on nearby areas. A stadium at Twin Bridges would have major impacts (traffic, parking, pedestrians, noise, etc.) on both businesses and residences in Crystal City and Pentagon City. It would also have impacts on other residential areas of Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge. If a stadium were constructed at Twin Bridges, Arlington County would have to make serious, substantial efforts to deal with any resulting problems. It is unclear whether the Stadium Authority or its baseball club tenant would share responsibility for mitigating these impacts. A stadium located at Twin Bridges would generate substantial additional economic activity and tax revenue in Arlington.
Whether the tax revenue would be more than the additional costs to the County depends on what off-site improvements and services the County might agree to underwrite, any contribution it might make directly to the Stadium Authority, and any other costs it might assume in negotiations. It is impossible to make realistic estimates of these outlays until the General Assembly decides how to finance stadium construction. The Committee is strongly of the view that a guiding principle of negotiations should be that the County should at least come out even; a reasonable estimate of additional County tax revenue must be at least as great as a reasonable estimate of additional spending.
The Committee believes that the overall desirability of this site from the standpoint of MLB should enhance the County's negotiating position. The Stadium Authority's planning and design schedule is so tight that it is unlikely any jurisdiction can meet it while providing all its essential development reviews. It is unrealistic for the Stadium Authority to expect that the thoughtful planning and design appropriate for a site, like Twin Bridges, within the monumental core of the Nation's Capital, could be completed in five or six months.
Like all other Northern Virginia sites, especially those involving federal property or highways, the Twin Bridges site would be subject to federal, state and regional environmental reviews. Arlington County cannot give the Stadium Authority any assurance that these could be completed as quickly as that Authority's current schedule demands. While the Stadium Authority's rush to select a site for a stadium may be justified by the needs of Virginia Baseball, there appears to be no need or justification for the frantic schedule of planning and design that follows site selection. The Ad Hoc Baseball Stadium Advisory Committee makes these recommendations:
Arlington County Civic Federation's Testimony on Proposed Stadium: "Mr. Chairman and Members of the Board. My name is Timothy Wise and I'm making this presentation on behalf of the Arlington County Civic Federation. I was Chairman of the Federation's own Ad Hoc Stadium Committee. At the Federation's Membership Meeting on Tuesday evening, May 7th, the Federation approved the resolution on siting a stadium at the Twin Bridges Site. We provided you copies of the final resolution on the following day and I believe that all of you have that. I know Mr. Hunter, I saw you had it Thursday night or Wednesday night. Before summarizing, the Federation's resolution for you, it is important to tell you about Tuesday's evening meeting which featured U.S. Senator John Warner and Congressman Jim Moran as featured speakers.
Congressman Jim Moran arrived first and asked delegates to suggest questions which they would like him to address during this opening comments. The baseball stadium was one of several issues which federation delegates wanted to hear about. In addition to noting that a second Arlington site was a warehouse near the Price Club, Congressman Moran and several other speakers earlier today noted that three County Board Members asked him to support the Twin Bridges site. He then proceeded to outline the reasons why the Twin Bridges site concerned him. Those included: it presents a safety hazard, the lights present a hazard, and the FAA will do everything to oppose the site he said. He then listed several reasons why the Defense Department was concerned about parking at the Pentagon, including many people working double shifts. The issues of security, including crowd control, 40- 50,000 people and post game activities, such as drunkenness and graffiti. He then noted that anyone of those would not be insurmountable, but his concern is that when things happen in combinations and they do happen in combinations. He also said you have to be concerned with the effects of a stadium on the neighborhood.
Senator Warner also addressed the baseball stadium issue. He noted he is very concerned about public safety, the environment, and the quality of life. He emphasized that no proposal would go through his committee unless it met those criteria. While economic development is important he said, he wants any proposal to be compatible with those "three very important points."
So Mr. Chairman, with that bi-partisan support of Senator Warner and Congressman Moran, I presented the Federation's Stadium Committee Report. With that support, passage of the resolution would likely had been more difficult as I thought it would. But as we will see later, it kind of "flew through." As I told the Federation delegates on Tuesday night, our committee considered the same information which the Board's Ad Hoc Committee considered. The difference was that we came to a different conclusion. And I am proud to say that the Federation delegates agreed to the committee's report by a margin of over 50-1. You have it before you but they are essentially the same as the information in the Board's Ad Hoc Committee Report. The issues which concern the Federation's delegates included the safety of both spectators and airline passengers. And I would point out, and I appreciate Mr. Eisenberg, you brought up the point on Thursday, might ask the staff to talk about the issue of safety some more and I would suggest that you might want to call that speaker, Mr. Pebley, who made his presentation that caused you to raise that point. I think he is much more qualified as we've heard a speaker earlier today talk about staff and the 100 days if took them to make an application to the FAA. I question whether they are the right people to be asking that question of.
The next point was the insufficient assessment of environmental and wildlife issues. The third point was significant issues about transportation, traffic and parking and I'll make one comment. Earlier this morning, I heard on one of the news channels, they were talking about the Wilson Bridge. And they noted that the Wilson Bridge today is carrying twice the traffic that was estimated when it was built. You have the committee report before you and you've heard all of the other concerns. Just one other point and that is, we talk about risks, financial risks and in the Ad Hoc Committee Report, it says that the average attendance over the last 5 years of all Major League Baseball is 27,000 people and I guess the reason we use 40,000 in the Anderson report is because that's what the newer, fancier stadiums use. Well, I can tell you that when the Cleveland Indians start losing again in a couple of years, they will no longer have sold out stadiums and you may have a white elephant. So in conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the Civic Federation urges the County Board not to submit a proposal to construct a baseball stadium at the Twin Bridges site and we also oppose the use of tax subsidies for that purpose. And if you have any questions about the proposal, I would be happy to speak to them.
Arlington County Civic Federation's Resolution on Proposed Stadium:
The following is the Arlington County Civic Federation's baseball stadium resolution that was adopted by the Federation at its May 7, 1996, Membership meeting. This is the final copy which includes friendly and formal amendments adopted at the meeting. The tally of the final vote on the resolution was 53-1.
WHEREAS, Arlington County is investigating whether to spend $150,000 to submit a proposed site, commonly referred to as the Twin Bridges site, to the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority for a major league baseball stadium;
WHEREAS, major league baseball Virginia would provide entertainment rather than a vital public service;
WHEREAS, the Twin Bridges site presents significant concerns about safety to both spectators and airline passengers. These concerns include:
WHEREAS, the discussion period for this major undertaking has not given the citizens of Arlington County sufficient time to thoroughly and thoughtfully assess the impacts such a stadium would have on:
WHEREAS, the Twin Bridges site raises significant transportation, traffic, and parking concerns. These include:
WHEREAS, the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority has resolved that it opposes the construction of a baseball stadium at the Twin Bridges site because:
WHEREAS, the economic benefits to the County of a thriving National Airport and Crystal City far exceeds any economic benefits which would accrue to the taxpayers of Arlington County from a major league baseball stadium;
WHEREAS, the owners of the San Francisco Giants baseball team are seeking to construct a major league baseball stadium at a site known as China Basin with no subsidies from the taxpayers of San Francisco;
WHEREAS, the owners of the Virginia Baseball Club have demanded significant taxpayer subsidies for the construction of a major league stadium at this site;
WHEREAS, a study for Arlington County by a major accounting firm has shown there would be marginal tax benefits for the taxpayers of Arlington County (about $1 million annually, assuming an admissions tax; an attendance of 40,000 fans per game, and a County capital contribution);
WHEREAS, there are significant financial risks with a sports stadium. Moody's Investors Service (one of two bond rating agencies which provide Arlington County with its "Double- Triple A" rating) and Fitch's have said:
WHEREAS, there is significant risk that operation of a major league baseball team at the Twin Bridges site would not produce the needed revenue to produce an economic benefit for Arlington County;
WHEREAS, a further extension of time to submit an application to the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority would be unfair to the other jurisdictions planning to submit proposals to the VBSA;
WHEREAS, several civic associations have already voted to oppose a taxpayer-supported stadium;
WHEREAS, the County has significant capital improvement needs, such as parks and recreation, community conservation, transportation, government facilities, and schools construction, that are more pressing than a major league baseball stadium;
WHEREAS, existing and projected surplus capacity in arenas, e.g., RFK Stadium and US Air Arena, will significantly limit the possibility of non-baseball event revenues in Arlington;
WHEREAS, other uses of the involved properties, such as buildings and community open space, may be more beneficial to the County than a stadium would be; and,
RESOLVED THEREFORE, the Arlington County Civic Federation urges the Arlington County Board not to submit a proposal to construct a baseball stadium at the Twin Bridges site. The Federation opposes the use of taxpayer subsidies to fund the construction and operation of a baseball stadium at this or any site in Northern Virginia. Adopted May 7, 1996, 53-1
Statement of Ernie Ragland, President, Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association
"On behalf of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, I would like to recommend that the County Board not propose the Twin Bridges site for a Professional Baseball Stadium to the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority. Before I discuss the reasons why our Association does not support a stadium at this site, I would like to first thank the many citizens, on both sides of the stadium proposal, for participating in this critically important process to Arlington. Also, I would like to add that I am a baseball fan of over 40 years, and that I personally appreciate and respect the Virginia Baseball Club's efforts to return professional baseball to the Washington, D.C. area.
Briefly, I would like to share with you, that members of our Association have been very interested in the proposed stadium, since we first learned about Chairman Hunter's letter of January 11, 1996, describing Major League Baseball's interest in locating a professional baseball stadium in Arlington. Our Association has covered the status of the baseball stadium developments in our monthly Newsletters since the January issue. For example, we covered the County Board's vote on February 3, 1996, to establish an advisory committee on the stadium and to authorize funding for a study, and the significant concerns raised during that discussion by the Presidents of the two nearby Civic Associations, the Aurora Highlands Civic Association and the Arlington Ridge Civic Association. Among the concerns expressed was the need for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval or authorization, for the proposed stadium due to its close proximity to the Washington National Airport runways.
Because of our members' interest in knowing more about the pros and cons of the proposal, we invited representatives from the Virginia Baseball Club, the Advisory Committee, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the National Park Service, and these two Civic Associations to attend our April 24, 1996, Membership Meeting, to discuss the stadium proposal. At that meeting, various concerns were expressed by both the representatives and our members about the issues of aircraft noise, traffic, and public safety, noting: (1) that the proposed stadium's location was only 2,740 feet from the end of Runway 15 at the National Airport (DCA) and (2) that the FAA was the responsible authority for restricting construction in the area of the proposed stadium site. Also, our members expressed opposition to any state or regional sales tax to help finance the proposed stadium, and suggested user fees be the primary public financing mechanism.
Because of our members' concerns about the airport safety issues, our Association contacted the FAA following our April 24th meeting for any information about the FAA position on the Arlington proposed stadium construction. To our great surprise, we learned that Arlington County had only recently formally applied to the FAA, on March 22, 1996, for approval for constructing the proposed baseball stadium near the airport.
The March 22, 1996, application is also discussed in Chairman Hunter's letter of May 1, 1996, which is included in the Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee's Report Appendices. Further, it should be noted that the Committee's Report states on page 9, that the County Board was asked in mid-December to consider proposing the old Marriott Motel site at Twin Bridges as a possible site for a stadium.
If the County Board knew of the proposal in mid-December 1995, then why did the Board wait almost 100 days later, until March 22, 1996, to formally request the FAA's review? Or, did the Board not take seriously the voiced concerns by the Presidents of the two nearby Civic Associations at the County Board Meeting of February 3, 1996, and the expressed need for FAA approval for the proposed stadium? Additionally, we understand that on March 29, 1996, the FAA initiated action on Arlington's formal request, only three days after the FAA received Arlington's application by mail on Tuesday, March 26, 1996. On April 26, 1996, 30 days later, the FAA published a notice "to all interested parties," who may have aeronautical concerns about the proposed stadium in Arlington, and requested that they provide them in writing, on or before May 26, 1996. This date is 11 days past the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority's deadline of May 15, 1996, for receipt of proposals from Virginia jurisdictions for a site.
Because of the potential material negative effects of the proposed stadium on the operations of Washington National Airport, and the significant adverse effects of the proposal on the quality of life of our neighbors in Crystal City and South Arlington, the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association recommends that the County Board not propose the Twin Bridges site for a Professional Baseball Stadium to the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority. Thank you."
"Mr. Chairman and members of the Board, my name is Richard P. DeiTos, and I'm Executive Director of the Metropolitan Washington Airlines Committee, which is located here in Arlington. I represent all the Air Carriers operating at Washington National and Washington Dulles International Airports. I am here tonight to personally express our great concern with the proposed location for a baseball stadium just north of Washington National Airport. We believe that locating a baseball stadium at this site, in close proximity to the DCA runways would have a negative impact on the operation of the airport as well as the traveling public. Our concerns revolve around three primary issues, traffic, effects on landing aircraft and acoustics. Our traffic concerns are twofold. The first is the issue of adding stadium traffic during the rush hour at one of the biggest bottlenecks in the area. Airport bound traffic will be dramatically impacted during the anticipated 50-75 weekday and night games per year. In addition, we fully expect that stadium traffic will find a way to use National Airport as a cut through between Rt.1 and the GW Parkway, generating additional vehicles on the busy airport roadway system. This additional traffic in addition to clogging roadways for legitimate airport users will result in higher maintenance and police costs. The consultant's claim that this additional traffic is "manageable" does nothing to alleviate our concerns.
The FAA will determine whether the stadium site meets their guidelines. However, a mass of bright lights, even if they are shielded, located within 3000' of two runway approaches is not another variable we want to add to the flight crew's approach equation. We will be following closely the FAA analysis as the whether the proposed stadium would affect present or future navigational aids, require increased minima for aircraft operations or require modifications to existing arrival and departure procedures, all of which are unacceptable to the Carriers. Our third issue is that the proposed stadium would sit directly adjacent to the main runways at DCA. Aircraft arriving and departing will create an auditory phenomenon similar to that at the US Open Tennis Tournament near LaGuardia Airport, the difference being that tournaments lasts only a few days, while the baseball season can last seven months. Also, the proposed baseball stadium is closer to the DCA curved, river approach and departure paths than is the tennis stadium. Finally a great deal has been made about the proposed economic impact of the stadium. I would like to point out that the anticipated $140.7 million in total direct economic activity generated every year is dwarfed by the more than $2 billion pumped into the local economy every year by Washington National. Which is the more important asset!
Statement of Jim Wilding, General Manager of Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
"Good evening. I am Jim Wilding, the General Manager of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. We appreciate the opportunity to appear here this evening and to convey to you the Airports Authority's very, very strong opposition to the location of a stadium at the Twin Bridges site. That opposition is formalized in a May 1st resolution of our Board of Directors that's already been formally conveyed to the County. We have several problems with the site. The first one is the fundamental point that we do not think it is wise to congregate tens of thousands of people that close to low flying airplanes. As minisule as those risks are, and they are very small, they're the sorts of risks that are in our view can be avoided and in this instance should be avoided. That's what makes aviation as safe as it is, to spot risks in advance, get them out of the way, and keep our margins very wide. So number one, we think it's a matter of good common sense and good public policy, one should not congregate that many people close to low flying airplanes.
Number two, we think that site will be severely noise impacted. We think that will be quite an annoyance to people on the site and people listening on television around the country. And we also think that noise will have the constant awareness for everybody in that stadium or the proximity of low flying airplanes, which will cause agitation, which will create political turmoil that will be with us for as long as that stadium and Washington National Airport are close to each other. Third, we are very, very concerned about access to the site on the ground. We know a lot about access to Washington National. We do 50,000 passengers a day there and it's hard for us to believe that you can impose a 50,000 seat stadium and not have a lot of ground problems. Fundamentally, there is a conflict between the economic impact of a baseball stadium and the economic impact of National Airport, which has these 11,000 jobs in this county and a payroll of over $350 million a year. We think you should favor the airport. Thank you."
Statement of Tom Wallace, Volunteer Safety Representative Air Line Pilots Association
"Mr. Chairman and Members of the Board. My name is Tom Wallace. I'm a Boeing 727 Captain for the US Air Shuttle and a volunteer safety representative for the Air Line Pilots Association. Basically, I'm the Mid-Atlantic Region Coordinator, Washington National is one of my airports. I believe that the Board has received a statement from Randy Babbit, our President for the Air Line Pilots Association, who opposes this proposal.
I personally take off and land at Washington National approximately 8 times a week and I've flown out of Washington National Transport Aircraft since 1967 and I and we and the Air Line Pilots Association feel that the stadium built this close to the airport provides a hazard and is not in the best interests of air crews and the traveling public. Pilots do not like obstacles in the approach path and on the departure routes. This stadium would be another obstacle and could diminish the margin of safety required.
Aircraft landing to the south to Runway 18, will pass very close to this site and will only be 100 feet above the height of the stadium. Aircraft departing Runway 36 to the north during instrument flying conditions will fly right over this site. Whether minimums for an instrument approach to Runway 18 for a Boeing 727 are 720 feet MSL and require 1 and 3/4 miles visibility. When an aircraft is approaching from the north and is at 720 feet measured to sea level, they must be able to see the airport and continue to land using visual means. During the periods of poor visibility and low clouds, bright lights from the stadium could reduce the pilot's ability to locate the airport and the runway. Thank you."
Statement of Richard Doud, President, Arlington Chamber of Commerce
"Thank you Mr. Chairman, Madam Vice Chair, and Board Members. Good evening. I was going to introduce myself but you do that so delightfully Jim, I'll pass on that part. I am with the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and we represent almost a thousand businesses that do business in Arlington County. You've already received a letter from me outlining the chamber's position on this issue and in light of your earlier comments, therefore my message to you tonight is short and to the point.
The Chamber recognizes that so far this has been a difficult and lengthy and expensive process. Such is the nature of significant economic development initiatives. The effort, time, thought and investment you have made so far has been well spent. If we spend no effort, no time, no thought, no investment, we will get exactly what we deserve, nothing. I ask that you not burn bridges, that you search for a way to be responsive or least partially responsive. Please submit the bid, thank you."
Statement of Doris Ray, Representative, Endependence Center of Northern Virginia
"Good evening, I guess it's my turn up at bat. My name is Doris Ray. I'm representing here also the Endependence Center of Northern Virginia. We agree with speakers that have previously made their presentations to you that it is very important to locate a stadium in a area with strong transportation systems to enable individuals with disabilities to participate in the stadium and its activities.
We think it is reasonable for the Board to submit the paper work by May 15 for a stadium without the money. But, we recognize there is a reality that often there is a necessity to put up front investment of money in order to show good faith and we know that. At stake here are jobs for Arlingtonians in part and that includes jobs for persons with disabilities.
As an advocate for persons with disabilities, Endependence Center realizes that up front investment is a very important thing and we believe that the human services community will understand this from our perspective and my perspective having gone through the Budget Hearings in Fairfax, representing the disability community. This perspective is tempered by understanding, the need to weigh expenditures as well as revenue for the County. The disability community stands ready to work with the Stadium Authority to encourage and bring baseball to Virginia, but it is essential that whatever stadium is built be accessible for persons with disabilities and therefore the Endependence Center of Northern Virginia requests the Arlington County Board in whatever decision you make here to advocate for the inclusion of representatives of the disability community, in the planning committee for the stadium.
And I would like to conclude by saying that, John Hudson who has spoken here told me, that he did a straw poll on the elevator coming up here. And the answer from the community appears to be 4-1, that they want the stadium here in Arlington. And I as a Fairfax County resident and a blind individual say to you, I know. I would use the stadium where there is transportation and Stafford County ain't it!"