Stadium Would Occupy AOC, Police Facilities

Posted September 27, 2004 at 4:06pm

Two Congressional facilities will need to be relocated if District officials are successful in their pursuit of the Southeast site they envision as the future home of a Major League Baseball stadium.

Both the Architect of the Capitol and the Capitol Police Department currently lease space on one of the 65 parcels the District of Columbia would need to purchase to construct a stadium adjacent to the Navy Yard.

The facilities — which include an offsite mail processing center — are both housed in a building owned by Guest Services Inc. situated on a one-block parcel at O and South Capitol streets.

The building, purchased by GSI in the 1950s, is also home to storage and maintenance facilities operated by the company.

A GSI official said the city has not contacted the company regarding purchase of the site, which would supply a substantial portion of the roughly six-block footprint required for the proposed stadium.

“We’re kind of surprised as everybody,” said Robin Thurman, GSI vice president for business development, in reference to the city’s selection of the stadium site, which is bordered by South Capitol and First streets between N and P streets Southeast.

But, Thurman added, if a formal agreement to relocate the Montreal Expos to the District is reached — MLB officials reportedly are still in negotiations with Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who contends that a Washington, D.C.-based team would negatively affect his franchise — Guest Services would likely part with its property.

“What’s good for D.C. is good for Guest Services Inc.,” Thurman said.

Representatives for the Architect of the Capitol and the Capitol Police did not provide information about their facilities and the property by press time, and Thurman could not immediately provide details about leases held with those two agencies.

Chris Bender, a spokesman in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, confirmed that District officials have yet to contact any of the approximately two dozen property owners whose land would be needed for the new stadium.

“We don’t have a deal yet. If it turns out a deal is made, obviously we’ll make some contact,” Bender said, and later added: “If we’re fortunate enough to get this team, it will begin very quickly.”

The new stadium is estimated to cost approximately $400 million, but that figure does not include the cost of purchasing property for the proposed site. Bender declined to provide an estimate, but said payouts would be “beneficial.”

“We know there’s heavy lifting that needs to be done. Whenever you move to acquire land … it’s not an easy task,” Bender said.

Under current plans, the stadium would not open to the public until the 2009 baseball season.

In the meantime, the relocated Expos would play in RFK Stadium beginning with the 2005 season, and that structure would undergo about $15 million in renovations.