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September 6, 2019 |  Rebecca Cooper, Washington Business Journal

The D.C. Council is getting a first look at the contract between the Washington Nationals and Events D.C. under which the Nats will build a 35,000-square-foot entertainment venue attached to its stadium, and the city's conventions and sports authority will help pay for it.

We’re also getting our first look at the venue, which could be a space for the Nationals to operate a sportsbook attached to Nationals Park. The Nationals have said the team will explore options for a sportsbook after the city legalized sports betting, but have not provided any details. We've reached out to the Nationals for comment and will update this post if we hear back.

The project will feature an angled-glass extension off the stadium’s southeast corner where First Street and Potomac Avenue SE meet. The building, which will have entrances to the street but also be connected to the stadium, will have two enclosed floors and a partially covered rooftop level.

The venue is expected to offer three restaurants — one white tablecloth restaurant just shy of 2,800 square feet and the two others, on the main and mezzanine levels, totaling nearly 19,000 square feet — and 742 seats. That count does not include flexible seating on the roof level that can be added for special events, according to the schematic design from Gensler. It also has a large main bar on the ground floor with a "large format LED display" that will be visible from both the ground floor and the mezzanine, according to the preliminary design.

Events D.C. approved the deal in April. Under the contract, Events D.C. will contribute $3.6 million to the construction of the new entertainment space, and the Nationals will serve as its developer and take in all the revenue from the facility. 

The genesis of the deal stems from some longstanding obligations Events D.C. has under the the zoning order that governs the stadium. That order required Events D.C.’s predecessor, the Washington D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, to build an additional 46,000 square feet of retail, services, entertainment or arts uses on the stadium premises. Only about 11,000 of that 46,000 square feet was ever built, which has meant that the stadium has only held a temporary certificate of occupancy for the past 11 years. 

The contract between Events D.C. and the Nats specifies that the Nats will not pay any additional rent for the new space. The one possible exception would be if any tickets for admission to the entertainment space also include a ticket to a home game, which may be tallied as it pertains to additional rent tied to attendance in the lease. 

The Nats will serve as the space’s developer, and will pay the remainder of the construction costs, which are expected to be substantial. Events D.C. will not be responsible for maintenance costs or capital improvements to the facility, according to the contract. The Nationals will keep all the revenue from the venue, which is expected to generate $22.75 million per year. 

The D.C. Council has until Sept. 14 to review the contract. If no resolution to approve or disapprove the contract is introduced, the contract will be deemed approved at that time. If a resolution is introduced, the review period is extended to 45 days from Sept. 3, when the contract was submitted to council.


Washington Business Journal

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