Revisiting the People Displaced When Baseball Returned to DC

Homes and businesses were removed to make room for Nationals Park

Nationals Park
A new article explores the people displaced in order to build Nationals Park.
Nymfan9/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / October 27, 2019 6:15 am

When a new stadium is built in a city, it can be cause for celebration in some quarters, especially if it means that a new team is calling that city home. But there can be an uglier side to that as well: not every new stadium or arena is built on previously vacant land, after all. And when eminent domain is invoked to push residents and businesses away in order to make room for a new sports facility, things can turn ugly very quickly.

Many articles written about this World Series mention that it’s the first time Washington, DC has hosted it since the days of the Senators — noting that there was no Major League Baseball team in the nation’s capital for over 30 years. But Nationals Park didn’t magically appear. And a moving Washington Post article delves into the homeowners and business owners who had to relocate to make way for the Nationals’ ballpark.

The article described the people displaced as “a ragtag group.” They include an Army officer looking to operate a bed and breakfast, a couple who owned a business restoring stonework and a company that worked with steel. For some, the process of being moved upended their lives; others are more accepting of the process. Needless to say, there are a number of very mixed emotions regarding the Nationals from the people interviewed in the article.

Nationals Park opened in 2008, but this controversy is far from the only one of its kind. New York City residents may recall a similar controversy around the development of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. And decades earlier, the use of eminent domain to build Dodger Stadium also proved contentious. And Nationals Park wasn’t the only instance where a new stadium project in Washington sparked ill will. 

Eminent domain, especially for massive sports franchises, remains a touchy subject, and for good reason. This dispatch from The Washington Post does an excellent job of reminding us about the human cost of new stadiums.

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