Putting Numbers on the WMATA Issue (Updated!)

(Editor’s Note: After this piece posted I received an email from WMATA clarifying the process. The only thing WMATA needs is $29,500 to put the agreement in place, not $29,500 per game. It can be done from game 1 of the season and roll over until it is needed, at which time the Nats can put down another $29,500 to continue the agreement. With this knowledge, the need for an agreement between the Nats and WMATA becomes even more of a no-brainer.)

There’s been a lot of fuss made over the issue between Metro and the Nationals and rightly so. I just wanted to put some actual numbers out there. To start, between 2005-2012, the Nats have averaged 4 games per season lasting more than 4 hours.

Next, We all have been made aware that WMATA wants a $29,500 deposit in its hand, in advance, to ensure the possibility of staying open past normal operating hours. WMATA has said that the deposit is refundable, but not what percentage of it is refundable. For the sake of argument, let’s say that 60% of the unused deposit is refunded.

Now, let’s move on to how many games we’re actually talking about. It’s common knowledge the Nats play 81 home games every year. But not all of those will need Metro insurance. First off, Metro is open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays leaving the likelihood that additional services would be needed on one of those nights pretty close to zero. On average between 2005-2012 the Nats have had 26 games scheduled on Friday and Saturday nights, bringing the number of possible games to insure down to 55. Then you have to account for day games which also wouldn’t need any additional Metro time. On average between 2005-2012, of the remaining 55 insurable games, 21 of which have been day games. So on average, the Nats would need to ensure 34 home games per regular season.

To pull all of this together, the deposit for 34 games would be $1,003,000.00. But that’s only for the first season that you decide to cover those ~34 games. Here’s the, on average, scenario:

$1,003,000.00 is deposited to WMATA for the average eligible 34 home night games. Now let’s say all four of our average games over 4 hours in length happen on one of those 34 games, and you need to keep Metro open for an additional two hours. With the first hour covered by the deposit, you’re talking about an additional $118,000.00. That brings the total give to WMATA up to $1,121,000.00. But, a large portion of that is unused deposit that, I postulate, the Nats get 60% of back. So at the end of the day $531,000.00 is returned to the Nats, and the cost of keeping Metro open is ~$590,000.00.

If the scenario above was the case each year, the Nats would reinvest that $531,000.00 returned and an additional $472,000.00, AKA less than the MLB Minimum salary mandated in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the scheme of things it’s a small price to pay and a huge gesture to the fans.

Just to drive the point home…$590,000.00 is:

  • 60% of what the Nats signed Brad Lidge for.
  • 84% of what the Nats signed Xavier Nady for.
  • 69.4% of what the Nats paid Matt Stairs in 2011.
  • 29.5% of what the Nats are paying Yunesky Maya (AAA).
  • 14.8% of what the Nats are paying Chien-Ming Wang (Rehab Purgatory).
  • 11.8% of what the Nats are paying John Lannan (AAA).

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