Nationals BallparkEdit profile
Nationals Park is the current ballpark for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball. It is the first LEED-certified green major professional sports stadium in the United States. The facility hosted the 2008 season's first game (in North America), when the Nats took on the Atlanta Braves on March 30, 2008. The first game played there was a collegiate baseball game. The stadium is located along the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and replaced RFK Stadium as the Nationals' home ballpark.
The ballpark, designed by Populous (formerly HOK Sport) and Devrouax & Purnell Architects and Planners, cost $611 million to build. The stadium originally seated 41,888 fans, but some seats from various parts of the stadium have been removed since its opening to reduce the capacity to 41,546. The Washington Monument and the Capitol building are visible from certain areas of the stadium, namely the upper decks on the first base side of the field.
The park's name echoes the original name of the early-1900s ballpark used by the Washington Senators/Nationals, which was called National Park until it was rebuilt and renamed Griffith Stadium. The name was originally a temporary name, as the Lerner Family had planned to sell its naming rights. When a strong bid never surfaced, the team chose to stick with Nationals Park. The stadium and its grounds are owned by the Washington Convention and Sports Authority.Location and transportation
Nationals Park is located in the Southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. on a block of South Capitol Street called Taxation Without Representation Street (a main artery separating Southeast from Southwest Washington) at the Anacostia River waterfront. The ballpark is accessible from I-395 via the Southwest Freeway, and from I-295 via the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, which carries South Capitol Street across the Anacostia River. The Douglass Bridge was renovated so that South Capitol Street could continue at ground level past the stadium (it was previously 15 feet (4.6 m) above ground level).
The main method of transportation to the stadium is on the Washington Metro system. The stadium is one block from the Navy Yard station on the Green Line; the station is heavily used by fans on game day. Prior to the ballpark's opening, the Navy Yard station's ballpark entrance underwent a major expansion, with the relocation of the farecard mezzanine to street level, along with the addition of an extra escalator and elevator to handle the crowds.
Parking near the stadium is limited. There are a total of 14 Nationals Park-sanctioned parking lots or garages, with a small number of third-party lots also in the vicinity of the stadium. During the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the Nationals ran a free shuttle service (dubbed the "Nats Express") from parking lots at RFK Stadium to Nationals Park on game days. However, the team canceled the service after the 2009 season.
Several Metrobus routes and the DC Circulator's Union Station-Navy Yard Route serve the park. Various other transit options include a water taxi service from Alexandria, Virginia and Georgetown.
Cyclists are encouraged to ride to the stadium and are offered bicycle parking. Garage C, located next to the ticket windows along First Street, houses a free bike valet service where fans are invited to store their bikes for the duration of the game.History
Financing for the stadium was expected to be provided by a banking syndicate led by Deutsche Bank. However, finalization of the financing deal stalled due to complex negotiations among the city government, MLB as owner of the team, and the bank. The bank requested a letter of credit or comparable financial guarantee against stadium rent to cover risks such as poor attendance or terrorism. The requested guarantee was $24 million, with the city requesting that MLB provide the guarantee. The financing situation was since solved and construction began in May 2006.
The site of Nationals Park was chosen by Mayor Anthony Williams as the most viable of four possibilities for a ballpark. The ballpark's design was released to the public at a press conference on March 14, 2006. Ground breaking was in early 2006. With an ambitious construction schedule of fewer than two years to complete the stadium, a design-build approach was selected to allow the architects and builders to work in concert with one another. Ronnie Strompf, the project superintendent, coordinated the efforts of numerous subcontractors on a daily basis.Opening season
The 2008 Washington Nationals season was the team's first in Nationals Park. The George Washington University (GW) and the Nationals announced in February 2008 that the GW Colonials baseball team would play the first game in Nationals Park on March 22, 2008. GW played Saint Joseph's University in an afternoon game and the hometown Colonials had a 9–4 victory over Saint Joseph's.
The Washington Nationals defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3–0, in an exhibition game on March 29, 2008, in their first game in the ballpark.
The Nationals opened the 2008 MLB season in Nationals Park with a rare one-game series against the Atlanta Braves on March 30, which served as the first official MLB game at the park. True to tradition, President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Nationals defeated the Braves 3–2 with a walk-off home run from Ryan Zimmerman, giving the Nationals their first opening day win since moving to Washington. Chipper Jones of the Braves hit the first batted ball and first home run, while the Nationals' Cristian Guzman got the first base hit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Zimmerman's game-winning home run was the third walk-off home run in major-league history to be hit in the first MLB game played at a stadium. The game was the most-watched MLB opening night in the history of ESPN.
In their first season at Nationals Park, the Nationals finished with a league-worst record of 59 wins and 102 losses. At home, they drew 29,005 fans per game, placing their average attendance at 19th in MLB.
Pope Benedict XVI traveled to Washington, D.C. in April 2008 and celebrated Mass at Nationals Park for 47,000 people on April 17. There were 200,000 requests submitted for tickets to the Mass.2009 season
Several ballpark improvement projects were completed by the Nationals during the off-season, including:
- Expansion of the Red Porch restaurant in center field to include additional tables on both the concourse and field side. Glass windows on the concourse side were replaced with slidable garage doors, opening to a fenced outdoor patio. On the field side, the rear-most row of Center Field Lounge seats were removed, with an outdoor deck featuring tables and chairs installed in its place. New signage was added on the concourse side.
- Installation of three statues in the ballpark honoring Walter Johnson of the original Washington Senators, Frank Howard of the expansion Senators, and Josh Gibson of the Negro League Homestead Grays, which played many of its games in Washington.
- A large Washington Nationals hat was added above the entrance to the team store near the center field plaza.
- New LED message boards were added over the roof of the Center Field gate, providing information and instructions to fans entering the ballpark.
- New advertisement panels were attached to the face of the two garages in center field, with green panels being replaced by white panels. Additional panels showing the team's 2009 promotions and the current lineup were added to the western garage, facing the plaza.
Concessionaire Levy Restaurants replaced Centerplate as the provider of food and beverage at Nationals Park beginning with the 2009 season.
Before the Nationals 2009 home opener on April 13, 2009 at 3 PM, longtime Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas was found unconscious in the Nationals Park press box at 12:20 PM. Kalas was rushed to George Washington University Hospital and pronounced dead at 1:20 PM. A moment of silence was held before the game, followed by both Nationals and Phillies fans applauding Kalas in tribute. The Phillies played with a picture of Kalas in their dugout.
On June 4, 2009, Randy Johnson became the twenty-fourth pitcher in MLB history to reach 300 wins when the San Francisco Giants beat the Nationals 5–1 at Nationals Park. The game was scheduled to be played the night before, but was delayed due to heavy rain in the DC-area.
On July 4, 2009, Adam Dunn became the 123rd player to hit 300 career home runs. The home run came in the seventh inning in a 5-3 win versus the Atlanta Braves.2010 season
During the All-Star break, the press box was repainted blue to match the color of the seats.
On June 8, 2010, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, called the "most hyped and closely watched pitching prospect in the history of baseball", made his first major league appearance, starting a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates before a sold-out crowd at Nationals Park. Strasburg pitched seven innings, giving up two runs and striking out 14 batters, a new team strikeout record.
On August 26, 2010, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals hit his 400th career home run, becoming the 47th player to do so.2011 season
Minor changes prior to the start of the 2011 season include the removal of the party tent on top of the LF parking garage to improve views of the U.S. Capitol from upper sections, chrome baseball decorations adorning the outside the stadium, and various signage and concession changes including the departure of Five Guys. Nationals Park also became home of the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame.. In June of 2011 four new concession stands opened, owned by Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group: Blue Smoke (barbecue), Box Frites ("Belgian-style fries and dipping sauces"), El Verano Taqueria (Mexican) and Shake Shack (hamburgers, hot dogs, frozen custard). . The team has also ended Friday night firework shows and fireworks after home runs and team victories.Features
The ballpark has approximately 41,000 seats and features 79 suites on three levels, all around the infield. Team President Stan Kasten also said that the team might sell the naming rights to the levels of the luxury suites, which currently bear the names of presidents Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. While the city agreed to spend up to $611 million, Kasten has stated that the principal owners, the Lerner family, spent tens of millions of dollars more on "jazzing up the park". The park has an out-of-town scoreboard, which is 102 feet (31 m) long, installed in the right field wall. The main scoreboard, at 101 feet (31 m) long and 47 feet (14 m) high, is more than five times the size of the one at RFK Stadium.
On March 13, 2007, Kasten announced that not only was the Nationals new ballpark on schedule to be ready by Opening Day 2008, but that there would be a grove of cherry blossoms located just beyond the left field bleachers. Kasten stated that the cherry blossoms will provide a look that Americans associate with the nation's capital.
Other distinctive features of the ballpark are the views of the U.S. Capitol from the upper deck. During the 2008 season, in the upper deck sitting down the right field line near the foul pole, during all day games, some fans can get a glimpse of the Washington Monument. Several area-based food establishments have concession stands: Ben's Chili Bowl hot dogs, Dogfish Head and Flying Dog Brewery beer.
Another feature The Red Porch is a full service sit-down restaurant located in center field. It offers some amenities unusual in a ballpark such as salads, along with regular ballpark fare such as burgers and hot dogs. When the stadium first opened in 2008, the restaurant was enclosed by glass windows with a view of the field which were soon made retractable. The restaurant was eventually expanded to outside the interior, with tables being placed in three rows outside.
The ballpark features a make-your-own-mascot store for the Nationals' mascot, "Screech".Seating
The stadium has 23 seating/pricing zones. 3,300 seats are available for $10 or less. Some notable zones include:
- The grandstand, sections 401 and 402 in the corner of the upper deck in left field, is available at $5 per seat. Tickets go on sale the day of the game and cannot be ordered in advance.
- The Center Field Lounge (sec. 100U) and Center Field Reserved (sec. 100L) sections, located beneath the Red Porch restaurant in center field. The CF Lounge section is three rows of large red padded seats below the Red Porch tables. There is a small table next to each pair of seats. Tickets come with a $20 credit for food and beverage, which can be ordered from the seat. Tickets are $56 each. CF Reserved seats are located below the Lounge seats and are lined up in regular fashion (as opposed to in pairs with tables). The seats are also red and padded at the bottom. Food can be ordered from the seat, however, the tickets do not come with a $20 credit. Tickets are $36 each.
- The Scoreboard Pavilion is a section of seats located below the scoreboard in right field. It features several unique restaurants behind the scoreboard. The seats are generally marketed to the younger crowd and are available at $22 each.
The stadium features three levels of upscale luxury seating:
- The largest of the three, the Stars & Stripes Club is a two story indoor lounge exclusively for fans with tickets in sections 206-221. The lounge is 33,000 square feet (3,100 m2) and features various food entities, live television broadcasts of the game on dozens of TVs, and views of the Anacostia River. Tickets have a face value of $55 each for sections 206-208 and 219-221, and $65 each for sections 209-218.
- The PNC Diamond Club, the naming rights of which were purchased by PNC Bank, is the mid-priced of the three. It is located between the two dugouts. Diamond Club ticketholders have access to the indoor Diamond Club, a restaurant with a bar and buffet. Each ticket comes with a $35 food credit, which can be used for the $35 buffet, the in-seat service, or any concessions throughout the ballpark. Those with tickets in the club also have access to the Stars & Stripes Club. Tickets have a face value of $170 each. The club underwent renovation during the winter 2009-2010 offseason. For the 2010 season, the back halves of sections 119, 120, and 126 of the Diamond Club were separated into a new seating zone, Home Plate Reserved. Tickets are $85 each. Though the seats are in the club area, tickets do not include access to the Diamond Club or the Stars & Stripes Club, and do not have the $35 credit. Ticketholders for these sections enter directly from the main concourse as opposed to through the Diamond Club.
- The presidential seats are located right behind home plate and are the most expensive seats in the stadium. It also features an indoor luxurious lounge with a buffet, bar, etc. Fans with tickets in the club can watch the indoor Nationals' batting practice tunnel and can watch the post-game press conference live. Ticketholders also have access to the other two clubs. Tickets have a face value of $325 each. For the 2010 season, the back halves of Presidential Seats sections A and E were separated into a new seating zone, as was done with the Diamond Club, into the Home Plate Box section. Tickets are $170 each and do not include access to the Presidents Club, but do include access to the Diamond Club.