Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Final Words With Matt Haas

To review, last Friday, Matt Haas--Project Executive for Clark Construction--was kind enough to sit down with Sohna and I to go over the Construction Schedule for New Nationals Park. Today, is the conclusion of that interview.

Here we go.

How about those Cherry Trees—is that going to happen? (SBF)

“Yes, we got 8 going into the centerfield area between the garages. Then, we got six additional that The Nationals are paying for next to the centerfield restaurant. Those Cherry Trees are tagged and in a nursery in New Jersey. We are going to plant them. I can’t really say if they are going to bloom at the right time. It all depends on the whim of the weather.”

You are aware of the efforts to put three Statues of former Washington Baseball Greats in this ballpark. And, the painting of pictures of former Washington Players on the Columns along the concourse. Are you directly involved in any of that? (SBF)

"No, The Arts & Humanities Commission has provided an outside funding source for the statues. They will be placed in The Main Entry Plaza, I believe. And, The Nationals have hired an interior decorator to work on those paintings and other interior designs to help spruce up the park. But, we are not involved directly in those actions."

If the retail area we are sitting in right now will now be ready come Opening Day, will the Nationals Office Building being built adjacent to the ballpark be ready? (SBF)

“Yes, it will be ready. (Really, Mr. Kasten told me if the team didn’t move into the offices until mid-season that would be all right with him. It was the least of his worries. SBF). Well, that would be up to him when he wants to move in. But, we plan to be ready unless something changes drastically. We will be ready for team. If they want to move in later—that's their prerogative.”

Are there any other spots in the stadium that might not be ready on Opening Day? (SBF)

“We are planning to have the entire ballpark ready--which is everything except that retail space. That being said, there is possibility that certain areas—for example: a concession. There might be a problem with a concession, where something could come up. In that case, we would try to isolate it and not have it open. But, our goal is to have everything ready by Opening Day.”

“We will be Baseball Ready by Opening Day. That’s what we owe by contract. To us, that essentially means fans can come in, watch a baseball game, safely. They can buy a hotdog and a beer, or a soda. They can use the facilities, buy tickets, souvenirs—and that, is baseball ready.”

At one time, there was talk of putting some type of large baseball on top of the Centerfield Restaurant with a 3D Display. Is that still in the works? (SBF)

“I have heard rumors, but nothing we are formally, or informally involved with.”

The HDTV Frame is up, the Nationals Logos are in place on it. How soon will the HDTV Screen be completed? (SBF)

“It goes in LED Panel by LED Panel. We are putting it in place right now. They are going in right now. Soon, it will be ready.”

Are there any other HDTV Screens to be placed in the outfield walls? That was mentioned as a possibility by the team, previously? (SBF)

“No, not that I know of.”

How far along are the team clubhouses and suites? (SBF)

“The Home Team Clubhouse is well along. The Lockers are going in. We are a couple of weeks away from putting carpet in. We are still finishing up tile in the showers. The Hydro Therapy Pools are in. The glass for all the suites is arriving right now. That arrival will allow us to start finishing off all the appointments. The Millwork (The Cabinets) all arrives this coming week. Most of the suites are prime painted already. The Suites will not be any issue in completing.”

How about The Press Box? (SBF)

“Also, moving along nicely. The Glass Sliders for them arrived yesterday (last Thursday, October 25th). The Press Box is all framed out. The platforms are there. The View up there is pretty stunning. The best views in the entire ballpark. The Press Box is in great shape.

When Centerplate actually tries to get their concessions up and running—will that get into the way of your construction? (SBF)

“It could, but we are going to have to work closely with anybody that needs to get in here. We must coordinate deliveries. But, its not too much difference than any other construction job—whether it’s an office building or a stadium. But, our goal is to get those areas done (needed by Centerplate) and hand over the keys to them, so they can do get their work completed.”

“What we have been fortunate with is dry weather. Good weather has allowed our crews to continue on pace to complete this project on time.”

Final question. All fans really care about is come here on Opening Day. And, when they come in here—everything they want to see will be up and ready to go. Whether that’s buy a hot dog; sit in their seat to enjoy the baseball game; look at the view. That will all be available to them--correct? (SBF)

“All of those things will be available.”

You are confident? (SBF)

“Yes, I am confident.”

With that, My Conversation with Matt Haas concludes. What was fascinating about seeing New Nationals Park last week was--not only how far along the stadium has come--but how much more needs to be completed. From our novice construction eyes, there is still alot to be done. The basics all appear to be in place. And, It's time to start filling in the blanks. 5 Month seems like enough time to finish off this project. Although, I just hope they don't come across any major delays. That would be a setback.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Conversation With Matt Haas

For 11 years--Matt Haas has worked for Clark Construction in various capacities. Today--he is in charge of the biggest project of his Professional Career. As Project Executive--Matt, along with Clark Construction Vice President Ronnie Strompf (who has twice been interviewed on Nats320), are personally in charge of completing the $611 Million Dollar New Nationals Ballpark on South Capitol Street. A 23 Month Project--that everyone involved will state--WITHOUT A DOUBT--is one of most challenging construction jobs--based on time, budget and political restraints--both will most likely ever be involved.

Now, with November upon us--The Home Stretch of this most difficult of tasks is at hand. This very week, the construction site moved from a 12 Hour Work Day to an 18 Hour Work Day (6AM to 12 Midnight). All because, just a short five months from now--Our Washington Nationals are scheduled to play their very first game at New Nationals Park. As noted yesterday--The African Queen and I were provided the opportunity to update The Nats320 ongoing Photo Essay of The New Stadium. At the same--thanks to Chrystal Stowe from Smoot Construction, Matt Haas was kind enough to meet with us, to discuss progress on the ballpark. This chat will be a two parter. First up--the overall construction and timing of the project.

Sohna, Matt and I met at Clark's Construction Office--Official Address--24 Potomac Avenue, SE. This site is what will eventually become The Retail Space--running alongside the first base side--attached to New Nationals Park--as part of the long range planned Boulevard of The Ballpark District. The time was 1PM, Friday--October 26th, 2007.

With that--lets begin My Conversation with Matt Haas.

Here we go.

As far as construction is right now—how far along is the process? (SBF)

“If you do it in terms of time, this is a 23 month project, and we have five months left until Opening Day--then I would say we are 75% complete.”

What issues might still be standing in the way of not meeting that goal? (SBF)

“There are no foreseeable issues. Obviously, something could come up as in any construction project. But, right now, we have a pretty clear vision and path to get to the end.”

Is there any margin for error, right now? (SBF)

“No, not much. Not much—no. Never was and never will be (smiling-both of us laughing). This will be a race to the very end.”

Some little thing could go wrong and you would be all right. But, if anything major happens—it could be a problem? (SBF)

“Yeah, we are prepared for the little things. Little things come up every single day—literally. But, no—if something major came up—it would be an issue.”

What would be a major issue that might come up? (SBF)

“Anything catastrophic, we don’t even think about that stuff—any type of natural disaster. But, some of the lower tier things would include labor shortages, material deliveries, and real harsh weather. Those would be things, some of which we would be in a position to overcome. If it got to a point where it became a major issue—we would have to do something to overcome the problem. Yes, it could jeopardize getting it (The Stadium) done, but we would find a way around it. That, I am confident.”

Is major construction out of the way right now? Are you just filling in the pieces? (SBF)

“No, there is still a lot of major work construction to do. When you look around the stadium—it appears the major construction is done because the structure is there. We are still finishing up things like concrete; the field will go in, in about another week—the actual turf. But, the major things that you don’t see and the average person doesn’t see, is the thousands and thousands of miles of cabling that is throughout the service level, which runs up to the scoreboard control room and then goes down to the scoreboard. And, all the different telecom closets throughout the facility, the electrical drops and rooms. That’s the real guts of this project—the electrical. Some people don’t call that major construction, but it really is. Our biggest challenge is getting all the systems up and running.”

“So, when that fan comes in here on that first day, and wants to get a beer--the beer system and beer conduit down to all the cooler rooms work. Or, if a fan wants to watch replays on the scoreboard—a flip of the switch—and it will work. Those are the major things that still need to be finished.”

There were some conversations online concerning that Press Box Camera now looking down from on top of the stadium—which is quite cool—and eerie at night (Matt—yes, it is—I know what you are talking about). But, some have commented that, from their eye, looking at that picture—it does not appear to them there is anyway the ballpark can be completed on time. While others, seeing the same picture—see no way you cannot make Opening Day. So, where is it? Who is right? (SBF)

“We are going to make it. Everybody is aligned to get there. Everyone has the same goal—obviously. And, we are going to get there. If you look at that (Press Box) Camera, there is nothing that scares me. The field is going in; when we said it was going in—which is the first part of November. We got 1820 seats in this week. We have said if we can get 1800 consistently per week—that would be no problem. No, we are in good shape.” (Nearly 20,000 seats are currently completed)

Does anything scare you when it comes to completing the project? (SBF)

“Yeah, like how many millions of dollars we still have to put into place. Its going to average out to over $1.2 Million Dollars of work needs to go into place each day, on site, to the end. And, that’s just a lot of people. We are hovering around 800 workers per day. I see that number getting closer to 1000 workers per day. Making sure everyone is heading into the same direction—with the same priorities—yeah—that scares me.”

And, yet with that $1.2 Million Dollars spent per day—you can’t go over budget one penny? (SBF—chuckling)

(Laughing) “Yes, because if we do, we are going to go under budget the very next day (everyone chuckling).

“But, seriously, the daily skirmishes and emergencies that arise—we must be able to put out those fires every day. Because, there will come a day in late February or Early March where everyone is dependent on everyone else to do their job.”

So, one trade is dependent on the other trades to be in sync? (SBF)

“Yes, you are exactly right. And, the good thing out here is that every trade is working well together. Having been on several projects in the past—there has always been a few problem subcontractors, but on this site we don’t have that issue. A lot of that success has to do with our site supervisor (Ronnie Strompf—VP Clark Construction) who meets with all the subcontractors every single morning.”

Are you aware and does the possibility of The Washington Nationals moving up Opening Day to March 30—for a special Sunday Night Major League Baseball Opener—conflict with your construction schedule? (SBF)

“Any day lost is of concern to me. So, yes. We overcame a two-month start delay due to the late acquisition of the land, and squeezing any more days out of our schedule will be a struggle."

Is it conceivable that some of the retail space (on Potomac Ave SE—where this interview was conducted) which might be leased space at the new ballpark—might not be ready come Opening Day? (SBF)

“That’s a very safe bet that this retail space will not be open. I expect to probably be sitting right here as the first pitch is thrown (all of us chuckling). Now, I don’t have any real knowledge of the rentals on these spaces—but what I am told—there are not imminent buyers for these spaces, or someone to lease this space. But, that’s more a question for the (DC) Sports and Entertainment Commission.”

Centerplate—which is the new concessionaire, as well as team store and memorabilia sellers—they will most likely not be operating anything out of these retail spaces (on Potomac Avenue, SE)? (SBF)

“Not out of this space.”

Speaking of Centerplate—do you have to deal with them at all right now? (SBF)

“We have had a few coordination meetings. They were brought on pretty late in the game—really late in this process. Normally, Centerplate, Aramark or whoever is the concessionaire is—is brought in much earlier and have a lot more say into the concession design. Here, the design was complete and we have already laid out how the concessions will be. They (Centerplate) will have to adapt to that. And, that’s just a case of The Nationals not getting a deal with them until much later."

They are actually well known for coming in and redesigning stuff after the fact. (SBF)

“After the fact is OK!!’ (Everyone busting out laughing). “After the fact is OK!! But, you talked about things that we could not overcome. At this point, we cannot overcome changes to this project (when it comes to Centerplate, the Nationals or anyone elses needs), little or big. We have a design that is complete. And, for this stadium to open—we have to focus on the base contract work we have, and not get distracted.”

“Now, you could say—‘How could changing the concessions affect the opening of this park?’ But, any little thing—a change in equipment, and that equipment doesn’t arrive on time—and the Department of Health doesn’t get in and give us our occupancy permit for that concession—Centerplate is then delayed in offering that service. That’s why we have our designs done; the city (DC) and The Nationals have had opportunities to review our designs. They (The Nationals) made some changes and we accommodated them early. But, we have reached a point where we need to just focus on getting done the basic approved design.”

At one time, The Nationals said they were going to put “X” Number of dollars into upgrades at the park. Is everything they originally wanted to do—taking place? (SBF)

“Yes, everything The Nationals have wanted to do—we’ve accommodated. There has not been anything they wanted—that cannot be done. Now, there might be future things and now it’s too late. They enhanced the scoreboard (HDTV). They added the bathrooms to the suites. They upgraded the slider systems (Glass) in the suite fronts. They made some changes to the Office Building (attached) with the building layout. And, they enlarged the Centerfield Restaurant—as well. That’s all stuff we accommodated and is in the current designs.”

And, that is all costs, which The Team is paying for, correct? (SBF)

“Yes, all those things I mentioned—The Nationals are paying for. Those are called ‘Team Directed Changes’. The Nationals give a change to the city (DC). And, that's the only way The DC Sports and Entertainment Commission can increase our contract ($611 Million Dollars)--is if they have these ‘Team Directed Changes’--where there is a funding source.”

Just to be sure. You are building this stadium as per the original deal. And, anything The Nationals want to add on now. Or, Centerplate wants to add on now. Must, be done—after this current stadium design is completed? (SBF)

“Unless it’s a cosmetic like change. If they want say pink (laughing) instead of red color. Yes, that’s right. Obviously—we are going to try to be as accommodating as we possibly can. But, their goal is our goal, and I know they would support us if something can’t be done that is going to jeopardize the project opening.”

“Certainly it would be something that could be done after the season started, during an away series or during the All Star Break, or the next year—that would be the smart thing to do.”

Tomorrow--in Part Two--a more detailed look at the little things. Cheery Trees, Statues, Artwork--fan oriented items that many are looking forward to seeing, among other interesting ideas and comments.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Nationals Park Photo Tour Update

Yes, its true--nearly just five months to go before Our Washington Nationals play their very first baseball game on South Capitol Street. With that in mind--I contacted Chrystal Stowe from Smoot Construction and she was kind enough to not only set up an update tour for The Nats320 Blog--but also a sitdown interview with Matt Haas--Project Executive for Clark Construction. Matt, along with Clark Vice President Ronnie Strompf are in charge of each and every detail of New Nationals Park. Last Friday, October 26th--Sohna and I not only met with Matt at 1pm, but also took an update picture tour of the Stadium Site. If you recall--last Friday afternoon witnessed some torrential rainstorms in the Washington, DC Area. Just awful. But, despite all that, The African Queen and I trudged out to the ballpark and completed the task at hand. No, it was not the most ideal picture conditions. Yet, at the same time--we were not going to pass up on the opportunity.

First up will be The Photo Tour. Then, to follow in the next few days--Our Interview with Matt Haas. But, I wanted to pass along--although the date is not locked in--we were told that November 5th or November 6th is the target date for beginning the grass laying of the baseball surface at New Nationals Park. A Key Milestone in the Construction Process. No doubt--a Major Photo Opportunity for Our Washington Nationals.

So, with that out of the way--here is Our Photo Tour of New Nationals Park from Friday, October 26th, 2007.

Views Of The Field

HDTV Scoreboard In Rightfield

The Centerfield Restaurant

The Nationals Bullpen In Rightfield

The Seating Bowl

The Nationals Home Locker Room (under the first base stands)

Nationals Hydro Therapy, Steam Room & Showers

Nationals Indoor Batting Cage--With Presidents Club Overlook Windows

Club Level & Suites

The Press Box

And, Upper Level Concourse

Sohna and I got a kick out of the fact that we can now actually walk around the entire ballpark--concourses, mezzanine, press box, even the lower access tunnels and team locker rooms--without getting lost. Even the Construction Teams from Smoot/Clark/Hunt were surprised at our knowledge of the ballpark and why certain things are being constructed in such a way. Also, it was nice to know that this ballpark is quite intimate. As--it only takes a few minutes to move from one part of New Nationals Park to far extreme on the other side. This Ballpark is COMPACT--Far easier to move around than RFK Stadium.

Up Next--Our Interview with Matt Haas from Clark Construction.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Navy Yard Metro Expansion & Monument Realty

Granted--I am treading into some uncharted territory on this one--but I felt there was a need to find some more answers. For a few weeks now--it was reported that Monument Realty is 7 weeks behind schedule on their portion of the Navy Yard Metro Expansion Project. At the same time, The Washington Post also reported that Monument might "slow down" their contracted work on the Navy Yard Expansion Project which benefits New Nationals Park. This, as a result of Monument being upset with Metro over not being announced as the recommended buyer for Metro's nearby Bus Garage. A key property across the street from the new stadium. A lot, which Monument wants to integrate into its Mix Use Ballpark District.

As most any fan of Our Washington Nationals realizes--Metro is a KEY FACTOR in helping to alleviate possible traffic congestion around New Nationals Park. When this story was first reported--many baseball fans immediately were concerned over its impact. And, who might be responsible for the construction delays. There is alot influx over parking and transportation needs right now. Although alot of fresh, good information has been released of late--some worry is still at hand. So, I decided to dig a little deeper.

Nearly two weeks ago--I wrote a post based on Metro Spokesperson Lisa Farbstein's response to my question concerning the Navy Yard Expansion with the following comment. At that time--Metro stated: "Here's a little more data on the Navy Yard station expansion. We're expanding the mezzanine to accommodate 15,000 fans per hour instead of the 5,000 per hour it can handle now. We're doing the mezzanine expansion. The work we are doing is ON SCHEDULE. Meanwhile, Monument Realty is doing work on the entrance to their building. To get to the station, one will need to enter their building. Their work is what is not on schedule."

Since there is always two sides to every story--I reached out to Monument Realty to see if they might be interested in speaking to me. Having read that Monument was filing a lawsuit against WMATA over the Bus Garage Issue--I was not sure they would respond. But, last week, sure enough Monument did. Russell Hines--Monument's Executive Vice President--contacted me and said he would be available on Friday, October 26th. That conversation took place a little after 10AM, via phone. Also on the line, was Monument's Vice President for The Ballpark District--Amy Phillips.

With all that in mind--lets begin my conversation with Russell Hines and Amy Phillips of Monument Realty. And, remember: Since there are three different people involved in this chat--both Russell and Amy will be clearly named before each quote.

Here we go.

I want to know exactly what’s going on with the Navy Yard Metro Stop right now? Where does everything stand? (SBF)

Russell: "We are on schedule. We have actually been working from a schedule that shows we are on schedule for, at this point, a number of months. (“Since July”—Amy adds). So July.”

Now—Russell asking Amy directly: “Do you have weekly meetings with Neal Albert (DC's Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development) and everyone else?”

Amy: “We have weekly meetings with WMATA (Metro). There are two components to the project. There is Monument's effort, and then there are WMATA’s efforts. We’ve been meeting with them weekly on the project--our construction team and the construction team with WMATA for many months. Really, probably since January (2007). And, as of July 30th, we produced our Recovery Schedule that was approved by WMATA, by The District (Government), by Monument, because we had fallen approximately three weeks behind. So, we accelerated our effort and we are now ON TIME for our base building agreement, as per the station opening.”

So--where does the behind schedule comment by WMATA mentioned to me on October 9th come from? And, the Washington Post 7 weeks mentioned in one of their recent stories? (SBF)

Amy: “Part of the disconnect, I would say came back in June, in fact--between the design bills, the three party agreement schedule and the base building schedule for our improvements at 55 M (St. SE). But, the delay was really only three weeks. And, when all the parties got together to review the schedule--contractually, we were three weeks behind schedule and we were required to provide a recovery schedule—which is what we did. That (Recovery Schedule) was approved on July 30th, by, again, WMATA, and The District and Monument.”

Russell: “We have made certain accusations in our lawsuit against WMATA. But, I can’t answer why WMATA continues to claim that we are 7 Weeks behind schedule. You would have to ask them. If they have done that (stated that fact) as late as October 9th—then I think that is a problem. I am looking at my schedule right now. It was three weeks ago that I left a meeting that Amy attended; WMATA Representatives were there, Neal Albert (was in attendance), Art Lawson from Metro. Everyone sat in that room, we went over the schedule. They asked us POINT BLANK—Us (Monument), Clark (Construction). Everyone sat in that room and went over the schedule—again. And, WE ALL DETERMINED we were On Time. The one item we were a little concerned about—because this has always been a very difficult schedule. All you have to do is go back to the News Reports in December of 2006 and around that time—right before Monument stepped into this void, and took on this responsibility. Everyone was very concerned about them being able to finish. But, really, one of the biggest hurdles was what is going on right now--and, it appears to be going smoothly—that’s the installation of the massive trusts over the Metro Entrance. Everybody left that room, without anyone having any objections, concerns about anything. Now, I can’t say I knew what people might have been thinking, but nobody raised any additional concerns. “ (That meeting took place on October 5th)

So, what you are saying to me is that your issue with them over the Bus Garage will not effect finishing off Monuments’ part of the Navy Yard Metro Expansion? Correct? (SBF)

Russell: “No, because we are building a 275,000 Square Foot Building on top of it. We have as much at stake as anybody in this area—in this Metro Expansion--anybody other than The District. The District has invested $750 Million Dollars. And, when we have finished this project, we are going to be at $400 Million Dollars (invested). Oh, and excuse me—I should include The Lerner’s in there, because they have spent $450 Million for a baseball team.”

Russell: “It's hard to separate the two issues (Navy Yard Metro Expansion & Bus Garage). But, we have said—I don’t know how many more times we can say it—how many more schedules we can provide. As I pointed out in my communications with Commissioner Litsky (Andy—ANC, community advisory board), and you can check on this and ask someone else—clearly, WMATA is not the one giving the correct information. Because, everyone else involved in this is saying—we (Monument) are on schedule and on time.”

Where does the Washington Post article claiming Monument might “slow down the process” of completing the Metro Stop for being pissed off over the Bus Garage come from? (SBF)

Russell: “They were referring to a letter we (Monument) wrote to John Catoe (Metro General Manager) back in August? Or July? And, this was as they (Metro) were beginning this bid process--or, getting ready to open these bids (for the Bus Garage). We (Monument) were reminding them (Metro) of their obligations to us toward the reward which was made two years ago. Frankly, it was sort of a reckless path for them to go on—considering their partner in the Metro deal was the one they were abusing—in a sense. But, at the time, what I explained to Litsky—it was not about slowing the Metro improvement down. We were being asked to spend more money. So, they way I described it: ‘WMATA wanted to continue to take advantage of Monuments resources, as they had done.’ I know you (SBF) said—you are not interested in the rest of the story associated with The Bus Garage—but WMATA has taken great advantages of what we had to offer as the group that owned a million and a quarter of square feet of development. That parcel over there; and, the one over there—and all around their (Metro’s) properties.”

Russell: “If you are paying close attention, you knew there was a parking lot there before. We relocated their employees parking (who worked at The Bus Garage) over on another lot that we owned. We closed the alleys for them. We were working on the construction of Half Street with The District, with DDOT (DC Department of Transportation). We were paying for all that. It was all under the assumption that we had been rewarded the right to negotiate with WMATA for The Bus Garage. So, its hard to separate the two things. But it shouldn’t be surprising to anybody to hear that the Principal of Monument sent a letter to John Catoe objecting to the path they had chosen. And, pointing out the inconsistency--in asking Monument to spend more money to make the thing (Metro Expansion) go even faster—and then, set that aside, and go on this sealed bid one shot auction for the Bus Facility.”

That Bus Facility—was that actually promised in writing to you (Monument)? Or was that just assumed? (SBF)

Russell: “Monument was awarded the right to negotiate with WMATA through a process that the AWC ran. We had a letter of intent with Anacostia Waterfront Corporation. But, to understand the whole thing--clearly, if we had a written contract just with WMATA, than we would be presenting that. Obviously, this is much more complicated than a contract dispute. Back in March 2006—WMATA had offered those properties for sale in a joint development solicitation. Then, the day before it was due—they withdrew the joint development solicitation, at the request of (then) Mayor (Tony) Williams. So, that he could run the AWC Process. That part is not in dispute. Then, the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation ran essentially a beauty contest for Master Developer—and WE WON. Then, we spent the following two years working, not just with AWC—but also with WMATA too. Working on the Metro Improvements, working on where the buses were going to go—temporary conditions—help in looking for a replacement site—closing their alleys—getting the appropriate zoning—so they could park on our property. We constructed and paid for their parking lot. We worked so their property was not designated an historic landmark. I mean, this is not a secret. You can pick up the paper and for two years—everybody reported Monument was The Master Developer.”

There was an ad in The Washington Post earlier this week, placed by Monument that said: “We know our way around the diamond”. Was that strategically placed as a result of what’s going on right now? (SBF)

Russell: “That marketing campaign really has nothing to do with what’s going on in terms of lawsuits and arguments about schedules. That’s a reference to the plan of The District, which is essentially a diamond (Geographic Shape) with the various quadrants—then a connection to baseball as well. I think there is a reference to Bethesda, Arlington—sort of all the areas. The point was we (Monument) know our way around Washington, DC. And then, we’ve made our marketing program sort of centered around whole the concept of baseball. We made that connection.”

What has been the ANC and Mr. Litsky’s response to everything? (SBF)

Russell: “I went to the hearing for The Randall School in SW. And, he asked the same question (about Metro Expansion Schedule), I am not sure why (at that time). But, he did. I answered the question, again. And, at that time—I suggested that he call Neal Albert’s’ Office. He (Litsky) surprised me because he interrupted me to say he had. And, they had confirmed it. Which I knew they would—because I had called Neal Albert’s Office, the Friday before. I think they had spoken with The Washington Post, as well. They at least traded calls—I know that for a fact. But, I believe The Post has just found it not to be an interesting story—to say that we are ON TIME. Or, that Monument says that they are ON TIME. And yet, the Deputy Mayor of Economic Development (Albert) confirms it. I don’t know why people don’t report that.”

Its interesting, the other day—a Post Reporter Marc Fisher—wrote an article condemning The Nationals over what they (The Post) call The Parking Fiasco. And, in the online part of the story—The Post, once again—links the story that says Monument is slowing down the process and the Metro Expansion is 7 Weeks behind schedule. (SBF)

“You know—we are not that far out (from completion). I guess we will all find out. It would be a pretty neat trick if Monument makes up 7 weeks by April 1st? (being facetious).

Amy (Jumping In To Re-Affirm): “We are ON TIME!! I tell that to EVERYONE I SEE!!”

Russell: “The apologies will be forthcoming, I suppose.”

Just to be clear about something. It does not matter that the building you are constructing above The Navy Yard Metro is ready—as long as the Metro Expansion Part of this project is completed and safe to use? (SBF)

Russell: “The Building we are building above will not be ready. But, no one is expecting us to. Its only the Metro Station that has to be ready.”

So, it is safe to say that your part of that Metro Expansion—as long as that is ready and safe to use--is OK--whether your building above it is ready. (SBF)

Russell: “Yes, the project has been set up to have a certificate of occupancy, all the appropriate inspections. Some of the work is clearly not in our hands, it's WMATA doing some of it. But, yes—it’s meant to operate completely separately. We will still be building a building above it. It’s not that uncommon. There will be separate approvals, certificate of occupancy, inspections and so forth for the Metro improvements. Then, the protection for construction that is going on above.”

Amy: “Metro is doing all the station interior work separate from ours.”

This issue is such a big issue for fans who are sort of left in the cold on this. Because, all you read about is the dickering that is going on and, that there is no progress. But, if I go to the site to see myself—I see progress. The Team tells me there is progress. Metro tells me there is progress. And, now Monument Realty tells me there is progress. So, from my vantage point—is someone wrong?”

Russell: “You know how it works. We got hit over the head about five times in a week about being 7 weeks late. And, when we got all the right people to say the right things, except WMATA. We can’t get them to do anything—at this point apparently. But, everyone else says it's not late. No one seems to care to hear that message. So, what can I say—it’s beyond our control.”

And, that concludes my conversation with Russell Hines and Amy Phillips of Monument Realty. If anything, the information they provided gives Fans of Our Washington Nationals less concern about The Navy Yard Metro Expansion NOT BEING fully functionable come Opening Day, 2008. Everything Monument has stated to me clearly says THEY EXPECT The West Metro Entrance to The Navy Yard Stop to be at Full Capacity (15,000 Patrons per hour) for Our Washington Nationals very first game on South Capitol Street. As fans, that's our most important worry--and to me--their information is a good thing. As, the lawsuit has little to do with Baseball at New Nationals Park. Although, you could argue that a clear access way from The Navy Yard Metro stop to the Left Field Plaza Entry to New Nationals Park is in a state of flux--over the Bus Garage Issue.

Immediately after our chat--again, I reached out to Metro to see if they might respond to some of the points mentioned in this interview. As I write this posting on Sunday Afternoon--WMATA has yet to respond. But, if they do--you can bet I will write their entire response. At the same time--I am also hoping to hear back from The ANC. You bet I contacted them--as well.

Hopefully, all this information will be as useful to you, as Sohna and I, find it for us. We are just attempting to get the corrrect information out there--so everyone can make a proper decision.