The Washington Nationals nearly caused a riot yesterday. Not on the field, but on the line to enter RFK Stadium, where the team gave away bobblehead dolls. The promotion was so successful, and such a credit to the city, Mayor Fenty just put $700,000 in the District budget to buy the team’s millionaire owners giant bronze bobbleheads for the new Nationals Stadium.
Seriously, Mr. Fenty reprogrammed $700,000 to buy custom-made art work at the stadium for the team’s millionaire owners. How many times does this bad policy have to strike out before it is removed from the batting order? The Council in its wisdom has rejected this move twice before, and Councilmember Kwame Brown, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, has called a “time out” on this attempt. Public art of this sort of is usually funded by the developer or tenant, and government arts agencies provide technical assistance. Well-known local examples include the Washington Convention Center and Reagan National Airport.
The claim that the stadium sculpture will be owned by the District and eventually moved elsewhere is absurd. The application for this one-of-a-kind, site-specific art includes architectural drawings of the stadium. Claiming this art is just on loan is like saying you don’t own your own dental work but have merely borrowed it.
Construction of lighting and maintenance of the stadium art works, also provided by the District, are not included in the $700K. There goes your Stadium Budget Cap. Councilmembers: use this $700,000 to fund a competitive, peer-reviewed Capital Arts Grant Program for DC community arts organizations.