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Saturday 25 September 2004

DC Culture In A Nutshell

Plans are afoot to build two new stadiums in the District of Columbia: one for baseball and one for soccer.

Since this is DC, the obvious path of tearing down the fairly nasty stadium that’s already there — with vast parking lots, a Metro station, and good freeway access — is not even to be considered. Instead, they’re to be built in what might politely be called slums. The theory, it seems, is that the problem with Anacostia is that there are not enough stadiums.

It should be noted that the area around the existing RFK stadium is not exactly a hotbed of prosperity and commerce, itself. But never mind; that’s not important to the DC In A Nutshell theme here.

In a Washington Post story today, after all the usual blathering about what a Boost this would be to the Community, etc., etc. we find this:

But other civic leaders expressed skepticism about the project, saying it is not likely to offer much to average families in Ward 8, few of which play soccer.

“I don’t care if it’s built by the government or a private developer, our community doesn’t benefit,” said Absalom Jordan, a Ward 8 advisory neighborhood commissioner. Jordan complained that the city is providing homes for baseball and soccer teams when it can’t provide housing for the very poor.

It’s important to be aware here that an ‘advisory neighborhood commissioner’, despite being elected, doesn’t actually have much power in DC. In most cities, ANC-type people just write rambling letters to the editor. In DC, they get elected to these extremely petty political positions and get quoted in news stories.

But it’s still interesting to see that he’s not interested in a stadium being built in his neighborhood,
whether or not it’s paid for by the city, because

  1. The city has not yet provided housing for every poor person within its boundaries, and
  2. People in his neighborhood don’t play soccer.

This is an enormous welfare program, essentially, that’s being handed to him, and Absalom Jordan doesn’t like it because it’s not… what? Another dreary ‘community center’? Housing for the down-and-out? Some other thing to further isolate the ghettoize his constituents?

And that’s DC in a nutshell: The classic DC activist not only demands charity, regularly and in large doses, but he also reserves the right to complain that the charity he’s getting isn’t quite what he’d prefer.

To his credit, Jordan goes on to point out that DC already has a stadium that’s paid for. There are a hell of a lot of good reasons not to build these proposed stadiums; it’s just that what Mr. Jordan considers the most important ones are silly.

Posted by tino at 20:43 25.09.04
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Isn’t the hospital right next to RFK (DC General, right?) also defunct?

That makes for a lot of land with Metro and freeway access. But really, why make an intelligent choice when you can tear up some other neighborhood in the name of renewal.

Posted by: Nicole at September 26, 2004 09:13 AM

What I find amusing about the new locations of teh stadiums is that if they are in fact built they will cause gentrification of the neighborhoods around the stadiums. What will tthat mean? Yup more locals will be priced out of the market much like hjas been happening near the MCI centre. Of course I dont’ think any city has any business building or finacing any stadium.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at September 26, 2004 08:33 PM