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Government and People
Councilmember Jack Evans
Chairperson of the Committee on Finance and Revenue
Councilmember Harold Brazil
Chairperson of the Committee on Economic Development
"Ballpark Omnibus Financing and Revenue Act of 2004"
Statement Presented by
Thursday, October 28, 2004, 10:00 am
Good afternoon Chairmans Evans and Brazil, plus other City Council members and staff. My name is Bill Hanbury, President of the Washington, DC Convention and Tourism Corporation (WCTC). I testify today in support of the Ballpark Omnibus Financing and Revenue Act of 2004. We submit this legislation will spur an important economic development initiative that will benefit District of Columbia residents for many years to come.
WCTC is a private organization chartered to promote Washington, DC as a world-class convention, tourism and special event destination. Our mission is to enhance the city's economy by increasing the number of visitors to our nation's capital. A Major League baseball franchise will dramatically enhance our efforts to attract more tourist and convention delegates to our city.
As the District's leading private sector industry ... hospitality and tourism reaches into every neighborhood and on to every street in our city. Washington, DC attracts over 20 million visitors annually and generates over 7 billion dollars in economic impact. This, in turn, generates over 300,000,000 million dollars in tax revenues for the District that are re-invested in: schools, law enforcement and keeping our city clean. A new baseball stadium is another investment in keeping our number one private-sector business healthy.
Washington is in a highly competitive environment with the finest urban destinations in the world. It is critical that we invest in projects that help maintain our competitive edge. Major league baseball will provide the District with new marketing opportunities which will attract more drive and fly-market visitors, plus enhance the overall image of the District of Columbia. Being considered a "major league" destination definitely has as economic advantage for the city.
The ability to package tourism products that appeal to visitors is a key component to successful destination marketing. Destinations with major league baseball franchises develop packages that combine baseball tickets with other tourism products like: hotels, restaurants, art/cultural facilities, retail, etc. Washington will do the same thing, and thus attract new visitors, plus increase our visitor's length-of-stay. This will enhance the city's tax base, and serve as an economic stimulus to grow both large and small tourism-related businesses.
Here's a good example of what the stadium will mean to us: We host over two million student and youth visitors to the capital city every year. During the day, they visit the National Mall and other top attractions. In the evening, they return to their hotels in the suburbs and spend money at Tyson's Comer or Bowie Town Center. Now, instead of staying at their suburban hotels, they will travel to the District for an evening baseball game. They will now spend their dollars in our baseball stadium. This is found money for the District and its citizens.
We also anticipate the new baseball team and stadium complex will improve our image as a "sports town" and thus attract additional sporting and entertainment events, furthering the District's reputation as a world-class city for these types of activities.
New York, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Philadelphia all have major league teams and these cities coincidentally comprise our top-feeder markets. The Washington team will have games against teams from these cities. This will allow us to tap into tourists who are also fans of these opposing teams. The objective will be to convert other team fans into overnight tourists, hence providing positive economic impact for DC restaurants, hotels and other hospitality-related businesses.
WCTC expends significant time and money nurturing Washington's perception as an attractive destination to the media. Bringing baseball.. ..America's national pastime to Washington, DC ... holds great public relations value. The initial arrival of baseball in Washington will certainly garner widespread coverage in national media outlets. It will showcase the vibrancy and vitality of the Washington Renaissance. Televised games and ongoing coverage of the teams will also drive home positive images throughout the season.
As you know, community pride and positive self-esteem can be catalytic ingredients to successful economic development. A major league baseball team in Washington, DC will enhance community pride and our sense of cooperation. We have seen how projects like the MCI Center and the Washington, DC Convention Center have ignited unprecedented community pride and, with it, dramatic economic impact. Major league baseball will do the same and become another cornerstone to the ongoing revitalization of this magnificent city.
From a statistics perspective, the impact of baseball on the District's hospitality economy is dramatic:
In closing, major league baseball is good for the District of Columbia and I encourage the city council to approve the Ballpark Omnibus Financing and Revenue Act of 2004.
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