DC Council introduces new fund to support the future maintenance of Nationals Park

Even a ballpark needs a piggy bank for extra funds for a rainy day. The D.C. Council could be creating a Ballpark Maintenance Fund to do just that for Nationals Park.

On Tuesday, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced a new amendment that would create the maintenance fund. Any leftover funding in the Ballpark Revenue Fund would be transferred into the new fund, along with some of the ballpark sales taxes and rent paid for the lease of the ballpark.

“We are thrilled for the future of Nationals Ballpark in the District,” Mendelson said in a statement. “With this recommitment, the revitalization of our stadium can continue to be a staple in the Capital Riverfront neighborhood. The District owns this stadium and we must keep it in good repair and up to date. This bill also prioritizes paying off existing stadium debt.”

The new fund is completely self-funded, according to the chairman.

“It has no fiscal impact, requires no borrowing, and no General Fund revenue is being used for this maintenance,” he added.

This attention to the maintenance of Nationals Park comes as the District is trying to entice the Wizards and Capitals to stay at Capital One Arena, offering $500 million in arena renovations. Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the teams, announced it was looking to move to a new arena in Alexandria.

According to the proposed bill, the reserved money in the ballpark’s maintenance fund would specifically pay “for the District’s obligations under the ballpark lease for the maintenance, repair, and improvement of the ballpark.”

Events DC, the public-private partnership company that maintains the city-owned ballpark, will still have to use its funds and excess reserves to pay for extra ballpark costs before the District has to step in and pay for upgrades.

One of these upgrades, according to Mendelson, is a $20 million to $22 million new scoreboard,  the Nationals said would replace the old one that was falling apart last October.

Mendelson stressed in his statement that the new maintenance fund will help stabilize the future of the Navy Yard sports stadium.

“Not only are we providing a stable future for the Ballpark and its teams, but the ongoing upkeep will be paid entirely by the stadium and its fans,” Mendelson said.

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Emily Venezky

Emily Venezky is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. Emily grew up listening to and reading local news in Los Angeles, and she’s excited to cover stories in her chosen home of the DMV. She recently graduated from The George Washington University, where she studied political science and journalism.

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