Legislation would set $300 million cap on construction

WASHINGTON -- D.C. Council chairwoman Linda W. Cropp plans to introduce legislation Tuesday to cap the district's construction costs for a ballpark for the Washington Nationals at $300 million as a provision to ensure that a stadium lease is approved.

Although the District of Columbia agreed in 2004 to spend $535 million on construction and land acquisition for the stadium, the 13-member council failed to approve a lease by the Dec. 31 deadline, prompting Major League Baseball to file for mediation.

The city and baseball then reached a revised agreement, which includes a $20 million contribution from baseball for stadium construction. Mayor Anthony A. Williams also negotiated a side deal with construction companies setting a "guaranteed maximum price" for the city at $320 million.

Opponents of the lease said the consultants concluded that the side agreement did not constitute a firm cap on stadium costs.

"The bottom line is, eight votes still have not changed," council member Phil Mendelson said.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, was not concerned with the legislation.

"This doesn't change anything," he said through spokesman Rich Levin. a stadium lease is approved.