Nationals Asked DC to Build a $300 Million Roof on Their Stadium

Mayor Vince Gray was asked to build a taxpayer-funded roof on top of the taxpayer-funded ballpark.

By: Benjamin Freed

The Washington Nationals approached DC Mayor Vince Gray earlier this year with an unexpected request—that the city tap its coffers to add a $300 million retractable roof to Nationals Park.

Nationals owner Ted Lerner came in with a "very preliminary pitch," according to a source in Gray's office. Gray quickly rebuffed Lerner, and the idea for a stadium roof was bounced out of the room. Lerner did not offer much rationale about why the Nationals need a dome on top of their six-season-old stadium, the source adds.

Lerner's proposition was first reported by NBC4 and WNEW's Mark Segraves.

Naked to the elements, Nationals Park hosted 81 regular-season games this past season, only four of which were postponed for weather, along with a handful of concerts. (A fifth game was postponed following the Navy Yard shootings.)

Nationals Park, which opened in 2008, was paid for by the District government for about $700 million. The experience of building a publicly funded sports venue still irks many, including opponents of the Gray administration's deal with D.C. United that calls for the city to front half the cost of a $300 million soccer stadium.