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A roof over Nationals Park? Probably not going to happen, at least not with taxpayer funds.
In mid-July the owner of the Washington Nationals met with Mayor Vincent Gray to ask that the city spend $300 million to build a roof over Nationals Park, a request that Gray quickly shot down.
The news of the request by owner Ted Lerner was first reported by NBC Washington on Tuesday evening.
According to the Washington Post, Gray was "polite but unequivocal,” telling Lerner that no public funds would be forthcoming. “We are not going to spend taxpayer money to put a roof on the stadium, regardless of the cost," said an administration official.
The Washington Business Journal reports that Gray "started laughing" after the request was made.
Lerner and team officials have not commented on the expensive ask; Forbes has listed Lerner as the sixteenth-richest sports team owner in the world, with a net worth of $4 billion.
Nationals Park was built with taxpayer funds, costing the city some $700 million. The team pays $5.5 million in annual rent, and while the city is on the hook for capital improvements, the team is allowed to sell the park's naming rights.
During the 2013 season, the team had five rainouts.
D.C. is currently negotiating land swaps as part of a deal to build a new stadium for D.C. United at Buzzard Point; the city's total contribution would amount to $150 million, with another $150 million coming from the team. There have also been persistent rumors that the city could coax the Washington Redskins into coming back to the city with a new stadium or training facility.
Earlier this month Council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large) introduced a bill that would require D.C. to study the possibility of building a 100,000-seat domed stadium complex at the site of RFK Stadium; the complex could be used to host Redskins games and help D.C. win the 2024 Summer Olympics bid some have expressed interest in.