Oh, the sticker shock!

An eye-opening report from the Washington Post confirms the fears of many: the DC Ballpark project is significantly budget and its total, true cost continues to rise. Among the points:

  • The construction cost (labor, materials) rose from $244 million to $337 million. Since then various items have been taken out of the design to drop the cost to $300 million.
  • $55 million earmarked for infrastructure costs (roads, utilities) had to be shifted to the ballpark itself.
  • Of the infrastructure budget, $25 million was meant for an upgraded Metro station. Only $250,000 remains for what will amount to a few extra gates.
  • The higher construction cost is partly due to more expensive materials to be used for the moden, state-of-the-art design, though the exact amount is not known.
  • Total cost of the land is $98 million, $21 million more than originally budgeted.

Those of us who keep track of the stadium industry were waiting for some hard numbers on the costs for the DC ballpark. While cost overruns should never come as a shock to even the least cynical of us, this is the first time we’ve seen numbers based on estimates in the current economy, which is beset with higher concrete, steel, and transportation costs.

Lesson? Get your ducks in a row. Get the land part wrapped up first, and as much of the infrastructure as possible. That way when costs rise on the construction end, you’ll (hopefully) have budgeted correctly for the project and you won’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul. This “on-the-fly” costing only leads to trouble. That’s not to say that it will happen with Wolff’s ballpark plan, but should he not be able to execute completely on ancillary development, you can guess who’ll be asked to foot the bill.

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