Brian’s At the Ballpark Archives

At the Ballpark – Nationals Park, Washington, DC
September 7, 2009, 1:30 am
Filed under: 2009, Reviews
Nationals Park - Click photo for more images of this visit

Nationals Park - Click photo for more images of this visit

Washington, DC is obviously a site that evokes a lot of emotion and stirs a lot of history throughout the United States of America.  The nation’s capital contains all branches of the federal government, as well as a storied sports record.  The Redskins, Capitals and Wizards (formerly Bullets) have taken residence in the District, as well as the upper echelon of each of their individual sports.

The baseball history in Washington is also storied, but there is a vast gap in the baseball record books.  Washington lost two teams to other cities – the Twins to Minnesota in 1960 and the Rangers to Texas in 1972.  Washington was without baseball for over 30 years until Major League Baseball relocated the Expos in 2005.  Along with this relocation came a brand new facility, Nationals Park.  Is the third time a charm for baseball in Washington? Let’s find out.

Concessions: A

There is virtually no dining choice a fan could have that is not available at Nationals Park.  The selection is widely varied and is available on every seating level.  The Nationals’ website contains a listing of the concessions available at the park, and from burgers to brats, from ice cream to the “curly W” pretzel, it’s all there for you.

Prices are high, as one would expect in a major league park.  The quality and portion sizes make up for this, however.  I had an ice cream sundae that weighed in at $8, but it was worth the price.  Bring a little extra money to eat at the park, but you won’t go home hungry.

Atmosphere: A

I never expected to say this, considering the locale, but Washington has a very understated ballpark.  There are some between-innings promotions, including the hilarious Presidents Race and the groan-inducing Flex Cam, but baseball is the primary focus here.  The music soundtrack was very enjoyable and not over the top.

There was a considerable rain delay (over three hours) on the night I attended, but the staff was all very patient and nice throughout.  The Nationals even showed two other games on their scoreboard during the delay.  A lot of people left through the delay, but those who stayed were treated well.

Sight lines: B

There is really not a bad seat in the park at Nationals Park.  As long as you are in the seating bowl, there will be no problem with obstruction or the action being too far away to view.

The one downfall with the sight lines in Nationals Park is the concourses.  The action is visible from the concourses and bathrooms – via television.  This is very convenient, but seeing the game from the concourses is pretty tough.  The overhangs of each seating level above you can cause blind spots.

Parking: F

If coming to a Nationals game, don’t plan on parking anywhere near the park.  There are some lots near the center field gate that cost $40, which is highway robbery.  Just about every spot anywhere near the park is at a premium, in terms of both space and cost.  With that said, don’t even bother bringing your car to Nationals Park.  There is no circumstance under which it would be worth the drive.

There are many forms of public transportation, including the form I chose, the Metro.  The Metro line features free parking at their garages on weekends, and the system is relatively easy to follow.  The Navy Yard station is within a couple of blocks of Nationals Park, and makes for an easy method of transport.  The Metro ride, while longer, is much easier and cheaper.

Quality of baseball: F

To be fair, this game took place before both the Padres and Nationals went on their respective “hot” streaks.  Even taking this into consideration, this game was barely watchable.  The Nationals won the game 13-1 after a rain delay of 3:11.  Padre righthander Luis Perdomo gave up five earned runs in three innings, while striking out seven.  Perdomo pitched in relief of Tim Stauffer after the rain delay.

The Padres mustered just six hits (to the Nationals’ 16) and featured several players who were not normal starters or contributors.  The Nationals got a grand slam from Adam Dunn and a two-run shot from Ryan Zimmerman to lead their offensive attack.

Overall grade: A-

Nationals Park is a pretty fun place to take in a game.  Be sure to build in extra time for transportation (which was a bit painful at 12:57am, when the game I attended was ending), and to come to the park ready to enjoy baseball – and maybe even a burger from Boardwalk or Five Guys.  You can even check out the pre-game and post-game shows from the MASN television network, just behind sections 101 and 102.

The real highlight of this ballpark visit was getting to meet up with Padres TV producer Ed Barnes, who is a great friend of mine and the co-founder of my weekly radio show.  Ed was a great help on the trip, which was much appreciated.

How to get there:

Frankly, ride the Metro.  The ride is cost-effective and takes a lot of the guesswork out of visiting Nationals Park.  There are other forms of transportation, including bus and cab.

Should you wish to drive, the address to enter into your GPS is:

1500 South Capitol St., SE
Washington, DC 20003

You may also want to see:

  • United States federal buildings.  The Washington Monument, the Pentagon, the White House and many more are all within a short drive, walk or Metro ride of the ballpark, and dot the skyline of Washington and northern Virginia.  These structures tell the story of our country, and are must-see buildings.
  • National Mall.  This downtown park contains the aforementioned Washington Monument, as well as a number of memorials and other historic sites.

The sights in Washington are too numerous to mention, including museums and other attractions that could occupy a week or more.  Be sure to plan your trip carefully, and research any sights you wish to see.


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