I know it’s just one game, but a few things about the opening day experience at Nationals Park left me quite hopeful about the notion that this is where I’ll be watching baseball games for the rest of my life.
Here are five of the reasons:
#5: Big Cup Holders. The team’s food policy states that you can bring 1-liter bottles of water into Nationals Park. Not being a soda guy, I picked up a case of 1-liter water bottles last week in preparation for the season. As you can see, that big 1 liter kahuna fits perfectly in the new cupholders.
Thankfully, my seat actually has a cupholder. Some seats did not, but that’s another story for another day.
#4: Four-Way Chili. Savvy Nationals fans back in the 2006 season at RFK Stadium knew how to find their way to the 300-level terrace food court, where Hard Times Cafe had a brief run as the food vendor of choice for the discerning palate. Now Hard Times Cafe is back at the new Nationals Park, serving fine Chili Nachos and “Chili Mac,” known to true devotees of Cincinnati chili as a “4 way” (chili, spaghetti, cheese, and onions). You’ll find Hard Times Cafe at Nationals Park next to Red, Hot & Blue in the left field food court.
#3: Helmut Sundaes. One of the great injustices of the past 3 years is that I’ve been taking my kids to major league baseball games without buying them helmut sundaes. Maybe it’s me, but for a kid, helmut sundaes are as much as part of the sport as the 7th inning stretch. Now at Nationals Park, we finally have the real deal.
#2: Home Town Fans. OK call me crazy for dreaming, but opening day gave me hope that Nationals Park will deliver the best home field advantage in DC sports. Home colors, home traditions, home angles, and most importantly, home town fans. Sunday was the first Braves game I’ve been to when I didn’t hear the tomohawk chop, and when Chipper hit that homer, the place went dead silent. That’s the way it should be. Here’s to cheering only for the home team at Nationals Park.
#1: Racing Presidents (What Else?). I started this site because the racing presidents are the first truly unique hometown tradition that we can call our own. They are great fun, and give kids of all ages another reason to become Nationals fans.
I was incredibly pleased to find that the team has made them a huge part of the fan experience at Nationals Park. The presidents race itself has been expanded, plus Teddy, George, Tom, and Abe greeted us at the centerfield gates and reappeared near the kids zone after the 4th inning. The Nationals had no idea how big the racing presidents could be when they were first created, but it’s equally clear that they are astute enough to build on this great fan tradition.