WASHINGTON - Less than a day after officials said there was no deal, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the nation of Qatar teamed up with the Downtown DC Business Improvement District to pay the $100,000 fee to keep Metro open an hour later for the Washington Capitals game Thursday evening.
“Qatar and the @DowntownDCBID teamed up years ago to deliver City Center DC. Today, they’re doing it again to deliver late night Metro service to Caps fans. Beat the rain and Lightning, take Metro and let’s #GoCaps! @Amb_AlThani,” Bowser tweeted.
Qatar and the @DowntownDCBID teamed up years ago to deliver City Center DC. Today, they’re doing it again to deliver late night Metro service to Caps fans. Beat the rain and Lightning, take Metro and let’s #GoCaps! @Amb_AlThani @QatarEmbassyUSA #ALLCAPS— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) May 17, 2018
Metro officials had said they were approached by Qatar to pay the $100,000 fee to keep the system open late as the Caps play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Metro typically shuts down at 11:30 p.m. on weeknights, leaving many area residents without a ride following late evening events. Metro charges a $100,000 fee to keep the trains running an hour later and seeks out donors to pay the fee. In the past, Pepco and Living Social have stepped up to pay the fee.
What would’ve been a potential deal was originally called off on Wednesday after Qatar attempted to change the language of the agreement, according to Metro Board Chair Jack Evans. It appears the deal is back on following Bowser's announcement.
Metro officials released a statement Thursday which said the fee was paid for by Downtown DC Business Improvement District and makes no mention of Qatar. FOX 5 is working to clarify the difference between Metro's statement and Bowser's tweet.
Metro told FOX 5's Matt Ackland its agreement was made with Downtown DC Business Improvement District and that it doesn’t know if that money came from Qatar.
Meshal Hamad AlThani, the Qatar ambassador to the U.S., tweeted that the nation was "pleased to partner with the Mayor, @DowntownDCBID and the Metro to get all Caps fans home safely tonight! #GoCaps."
Qatar firmly believes in power of sports to bring people together in peace and friendship- our Embassy cherishes its role as a member of the DC community and we are pleased to partner with the Mayor, @DowntownDCBID and the Metro to get all Caps fans home safely tonight! #GoCaps https://t.co/mSrw32gFwD— Meshal Hamad AlThani (@Amb_AlThani) May 17, 2018
FOX 5 has reached out to Bowser's office for clarification and comment about the situation.
A deal with Qatar has raised questions about a foreign nation paying money to run the subway system in the nation’s capital.
The Washington Post reports that Evans led a delegation to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in April in hopes of getting foreign investors interested D.C. projects. The Washington Post reports that Qatar previously invested heavily in the development of the District's City Center.
The Metro deal raised questions as to if Qatar is looking to buy political clout for potential upcoming projects in the District. Human Rights Watch has called into question allegations of human rights violations in Qatar, leaving some to ask if Metro should be doing business with the nation.