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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.

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.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.