Parking Options at Nationals Park

The Washington Nationals have made some changes to the stadium parking options available at Nationals Park, and for those planning to drive to today’s exhibition game or to Monday’s home opener, it would be wise to take note and to leave a little extra time to get to the stadium.

The free Nats Express parking and shuttle service from RFK Stadium is no longer available, but the team has replaced it with some more convenient and quite inexpensive parking options. These include $5 parking in Lot HH on South Capitol Street under the SE/SW Freeway, and $10 parking in Lot W on M Street SE between 6th and 7th Streets SE.

Washington Nationals - Nationals Park Stadium Parking Map

Last season the private Marc Parc lot on 1st and M St. SW started charging $10 on game days, providing robust competition for the Nats’ official parking, but Marc Parc is raising the rate to $15 this season. The Nat’s new $10 Lot W will be a convenient alternative, and a nice walk down M Street to Nationals Park; however, we predict that the new $5.00 Lot HH will become the most popular, not only because it’s the cheapest Nationals parking option, but because there are plenty of spaces, and once you’ve tried it, you’ll realize that’s it makes for a very easy in-and-out, and the neighborhood walk is nothing to worry about.

We liked Lot HH when it was $15 back in 2008, and were even happier with it when the price dropped to $10 last season. Now, at $5 per game, we just hope it doesn’t fill to capacity before we get there. The location is on South Capitol Street underneath the I-395 ramps — not easy to find if you’re not looking for it, but if you’re heading to the game from Northwest DC or Northern Virginia, it’s very easy to get to from I 395 North. UPDATE: The price increased back to $10 in 2012.

To get to Lot HH from the I-395 N SE/SW Freeway, just take the C STREET SW Exit, follow the ramp up and to the left, and at the end of the ramp, turn right onto Washington Avenue SW. In two blocks Washington Avenue merges onto South Capitol Street. The lot is on the right, after the police lot, just under the highway overpass.

Be sure to leave plenty of time to get to the games. With the National Cherry Blossom Festival filling Metro cars to capacity and causing traffic jams around the Tidal Basin, and President Obama throwing out the first pitch on Monday, expect the bridges to be a mess and the lines at the gate to be long.

The Eagles, Dixie Chicks, and Keith Urban to perform at Nationals Park

The Eagles Nationals Park Concert AnnouncedRock legends The Eagles will headline a concert at Nationals Park on June 15. They’ll be joined in the Nationals Park outfield by country stars The Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban.

The Washington Nationals announced the concert today. Tickets and parking will go on sale to the general public on Monday, March 29 through tickets.com. American Express cardmembers will have early access to tickets beginning Monday, March 22 at 10:00am. VIP ticket packages are also available from iloveallaccess.com.

This will be the 2nd concert in Nationals Park history, following last year’s successful Billy Joel and Elton John concert. A concert featuring Dave Matthews Band will follow on July 23.

Photo by Flickr member Youngrobv

Dave Matthews Band coming to Nationals Park

Dave Matthews Band will perform at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on July 23, 2010Dave Matthews Band will perform at Nationals Park on July 23, as part of its tour for the its album, “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King”. They are joined on the tour by Zac Brown Band.

The Washington Nationals announced the concert today. Tickets and parking will go on sale to the general public on Friday, February 26 at 10:00 a.m. through tickets.com.

This is the 2nd concert in Nationals Park history, following last year’s successful Billy Joel and Elton John concert.

Photo by Flickr member Dena Flows

The Bullpen – A milestone for Half Street

The Bullpen opens Friday outside Nationals ParkFor those saying the Nats need a new Bullpen, help has arrived.

Help drowning your sorrows, that is…

At 5:00pm Friday, two hours before the Washington Nationals take on the Philadelphia Phillies, The Bullpen will open its doors to the public, with food, drinks, and live music just outside the centerfield gates of Nationals Park. After a series of delays and rounds of approval by neighborhood groups and DC commissions, this marks an important milestone in the development of the Half Street neighborhood.

The Bullpen is on Half Street between M and N streets, between the Metro station and the stadium. Opening Friday will be a beer garden, local food vendors including Rocklands and Surfside, and interactive sports games for children. The bullpen will be open two hours before and after Washington Nationals home games.

Obama will not throw out the first pitch at Nats opener Monday

Barack Obama will not throw out the first pitch on opening day at Nationals ParkThe White House has told the Washington Times that president Barack Obama will not be available to throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener Monday at Nationals Park.

It had been previously reported that Barack Obama would attend, provided his schedule didn’t change because of world events. The Nationals have avoided promoting his presence because of the uncertainty, which remained until today.

Rubbing salt in the wound, the president will welcome the visiting Philadelphia Phillies to the White House the next day.

Count me as one profoundly disappointed Nationals fan. I don’t relish the added security that a presidential appearance brings to the park, but Obama has an opportunity to revive a 100-year-old tradition of sitting presidents throwing out the first pitch at the DC home opener. Let’s hope the nation’s #1 sports fan doesn’t wait until next year for an opportunity to see the Nationals play at home (and maybe even adopt the Nats as his new home team).

Open question: Who will the Nats line up as Obama’s replacement?

Photo courtesy of flickr user jurvetson

Voting open for Clint’s new Nationals Park co-host

Nationals Park in-game host Clint Khoury has drawn more than occasional scorn from those purists who think the stadium hype during games distracts from the baseball at-hand. If you fall into that category, then it appears you are due either for some relief, or for double the pain, depending on your perspective.

The Washington Nationals have opened up voting for the new co-host at Nationals ParkFans at Saturday’s Washington Nationals exhibition game vs. the Baltimore Orioles were asked throughout the night to vote via text message for the new Nationals “co-host,” with profiles of the three contestants — all women and all beauty pageant veterans — repeatedly shown on the giant HD scoreboard (photo courtesy of fellow Nats blogger Miss Chatter).

Now the Nationals have opened the voting to the general public, with votes being accepted online now through Tuesday, April 14, at 3:00pm.

Kate MichaelKate Michael could have the inside track on local votes, as she has been an emerging personality in DC media for several years, and knows a few things about promoting herself on the internet. The former Senate staffer and Miss District of Columbia threw out the first pitch at a 2007 Nats game (alas, quite weakly), and represented DC in the Miss America 2007 pageant. She boasts a personal web site, a separate blog called K Street Kate, and over 700 followers on Twitter. Her enthusiasm for new media could barely be contained on a recent episode of internet talk show The District Dish:

Guerin AustinGuerin Austin is a former Miss Nebraska USA (2004), and for what it’s worth appears to have become blonde only recently.

The self-proclaimed “military brat” claims to have moved over 20 times, and is a former competitive figure skater with a degree in broadcast journalism and experience as a TV journalist and host.

What Austin lacks in DC connections she appears to make up for in “emcee” experience on a variety of television shows. Her demo reel gives a pretty good sense of what she’d be like as Nationals Park co-host:

Yolanda MakleYolanda Makle is the only one of the three contestants who has experience with the Nationals, having spent last season as a member of the Nat Pack while juggling a full-time job as a telecommunications engineer (I caught this photo of Makle during the 7th inning stretch at last season’s Nationals Park 70s Night).

The striking DC mother of two is another pageant circuit veteran, having represented Puerto Rico in the 2006 Miss United States pageant and currently holding the title Ms. Belleza Latina 2009. She is an active volunteer in the community, has a blog and boasts just a handful of followers on Twitter.

Makle’s community service, DC roots, love of sports, and experience on The Nat Pack might otherwise make her a favorite in my book, but I don’t think I could cast my vote for somebody who openly calls Abe Lincoln her favorite racing president. Ouch.

Online voting ends Tuesday, April 14, at 3:00pm, with the winner to be announced at the Nationals game vs. the Marlins on Friday, April 17th.

Nationals Park fan experience changes include “photo station” with giant racing president bobbleheads

The new racing president bobbleheads at Nationals Park Today the Nationals made official many changes to the Nationals Park fan experience, including new food options, a major renovation of the Red Porch, and the unveiling of seven-foot stationary bobbleheads at the “Nats Family Fun Area” in the likeness of George, Tom, Abe, Teddy, and the GEICO Gecko. Other changes include new value meals, picnic tables, live post-game shows in the centerfield plaza, and some additional food options coming for mid-season.

I have been out of the country for most of the past two weeks and have missed a lot, including today’s media tour, where the announcements are being made. While I’ve been out, the Washingtonian Magazine wrote up this blog as one of DC’s “Can’t Miss Clicks,” and season tickets were delivered including — surprise of surprises — a photo of me holding a Teddy Rally Sign on the September 10th ticket. Photo to follow.

Most of the changes will be on display tomorrow evening for the exhibition game between your Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles. The full announcement from the Nationals:

WASHINGTON NATIONALS ANNOUNCE WHAT’S NEW AT NATIONALS PARK
Team Upgrades Red Porch Restaurant and Nats Family Fun Area to Improve Fan Experience

The Washington Nationals today unveiled a variety of improvements to Nationals Park. To enhance the fan experience at the ballpark, new concessionaire Levy Restaurants was introduced in February; major renovations were completed on the Red Porch Restaurant; significant changes were made to the Nats Family Fun Area in the Center Field Plaza, including the GEICO Racing Presidents Photo Station and the Exxon Strike Zone; and additional directional signage has been installed. New statues and artwork will be displayed in the Center Field Plaza and at the Home Plate Gate. The statues and artwork will be unveiled during a ceremony on Wednesday, April 8 at 11:00am.

The Red Porch Restaurant in the Center Field Plaza, open to all fans two-and-a-half hours before game time, has undergone a complete remodeling and will open on April 4 for the Nationals exhibition game vs. the Baltimore Orioles at 6:05pm. Outdoor dining patios have been created on both sides of the restaurant with an awning covering the Center Field Plaza tables. Sliding glass panels and rollup glass doors will open to expose both the Center Field Plaza and the playing field so that fans may experience the sights and sounds of the ballpark while enjoying their meal indoors. Decorative fans and lighting adorn the open ceiling and all furniture is being replaced. The new menu will feature three styles of wings, including Thai-style chili wings, an Italian chopped salad pizzan, and a selection of Minor League Kids Meals for $6. The Red Porch will also feature a variety of draft beers and a selection of American micro-brew craft beers.

The Nationals have partnered with Levy Restaurants for food and beverage operations, the leader in premium sports and entertainment dining. New menus will be launched on Saturday, serving both traditional fare and upscale items, including regional dishes and innovative versions of D.C.’s favorites. Four new concessions concepts will be introduced at the park including a Healthy Plate cart, featuring healthy wraps, fresh salads, vegetables and hummus and fresh fruit; The Pit at the Red Loft, opening mid-season and serving traditional pit barbeque prepared on a charcoal grill; a barbeque concession stand, also opening mid-season on the main concourse, serving ribs, pulled pork and brisket; and the Triple Play Grill, located in the Left Field V and offering a pulled pork sandwich and foot-long Crab Louie sandwich. Additional menu boards have been added to 40 concession stands increasing visibility throughout the park. The team will offer three value meals at various stands, all at a cost of $7, the Nats Dog Meal, Nats Dog, 16-oz. soda and chips; Nacho Value Pack, small nachos and two 16-oz sodas; and the Popcorn Value Pack, 12-oz popcorn tub and two 16-oz sodas.

“The Nationals are committed to providing a first-class fan experience at Nationals Park,” said Nationals President Stan Kasten. “Nationals Park remains one of the most affordable entertainment options in Washington, DC with a large variety of ticket deals and value menus offered. We feel that enhancements to the Red Porch, the partnership with Levy Restaurants, the new entertainment options in Center Field Plaza and the improved product on the field will combine to create a memorable day at the ballpark in 2009.”

The Nats Family Fun Area which includes the GEICO Racing Presidents Photo Station, Sony Playstation Pavilion, Exxon Strike Zone and Build-A-Bear workshop has also undergone renovations. GEICO continues its sponsorship of the most popular in-game feature at Nationals Park with the creation of Racing President Bobbleheads, seven-foot stationary bobbleheads in the likeness of George, Tom, Abe, Teddy and the GEICO Gecko. Fans may take photos with the bobbleheads from gates open to final out. The Exxon Strike Zone has been completely revamped, providing fans with the opportunity to practice their pitching and hitting skills on the latest in simulated equipment while learning that baseball fundamentals are rooted in physics. The walls of the Strike Zone are covered in math and science facts that illustrate their relationship to the game. One wall of the new Exxon Strike Zone is devoted to the energy efficiency considerations that went into creating Nationals Park, the first LEED-Silver certified ballpark in the country. Through a partnership with ExxonMobil, fans can view tips on how to become more energy efficient in their daily lives.

The ballclub has added a variety of amenities designed to make the Nationals Park experience more enjoyable. Guests arriving at the ballpark will receive ticket information from new LED boards installed above the ticket windows at First and N Street, SE, the Main Box Office, the ticket windows adjacent to the team store and above the Center Field Gates. Fans that enter the ballpark through the Center Field Gates will get a glimpse of the games starting line-up as displayed on the façade of Parking Garage B, listed by position on large Topps Starting Line-up Cards. Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight will host MASN’s pre- and post-game show live from Nationals Park on a stage located in the Center Field Plaza. Picnic tables have been added on every level of the park throughout the concourses and 75 Nationals baseball cap-topped recycling bins have been provided by Coca-Cola to make it easier for fans to recycle. Additional directional signage has also been installed throughout the ballpark.

The Nationals will unveil the ballpark’s new statues and artwork on Wednesday, April 8 at 11:00am. Through a partnership with the Commission on the DC Arts & Humanities, Omny Amri of Timeless Creations, Inc. has created three white bronze statutes to honor the legends of Washington, DC baseball history – Josh Gibson, Frank Howard and Walter Johnson. These statues, along with The Ball Game – a mobile designed by Walter Kravitz and located at the First Base Gate, will debut at a public ceremony next week. A media advisory with information on this event will be distributed shortly.

Photo courtesy of Miss Chatter

Barack Obama to throw out the first pitch at Nationals home opener

Barack Obama will throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park for the Washington Nationals home opener on April 13.Ben Goessling reports in Saturday’s Washington Times that president Barack Obama will throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener against the Phillies on April 13.

The Times cites a club source who spoke “on the condition of anonymity” because no announcement has been made.

Team president Stan Kasten and various members of the Natosphere have hoped that Obama will make the presidential first pitch an annual tradition in Washington. That seems more likely than converting Obama into a Nationals fan — at least in the short-term.

Lots of tickets still available at Nationals.com.

Your chance to sing the National Anthem at Nationals Park

The Washington Nationals have announced that they will be hosting open auditions this Saturday, March 7 for those who wish to sing the National Anthem this season at Nationals Park.

Angela Calo sings the National Anthem at Nationals ParkThe first 100 performers to register through e-mail at anthem@nationals.com will have the opportunity to show the powers that be that they have the pipes to perform during a Washington Nationals home game this season. All applicants will be asked to perform the anthem behind home plate facing the seating bowl as they would during the season.

Applicants are asked to include the following in their e-mail:
– Performance Resume (If applicable)
– Headshot (or recent picture)
– Voice (and Instrument type, if applicable)

On Saturday, registration will begin at noon and end promptly at 12:30pm, at the Centerfield gates. Parking will be available in Lot C, located on the corner of First and N Streets, SE. Only the person auditioning will be allowed to enter the ballpark, except for contestants under the age of 18 who must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Renditions must be kept under 90 seconds.

If you can’t make it Saturday, you can still send an application via email along with a tape, but Nationals Entertainment Director Tom Davis reports that the team receives thousands of requests, so showing up Saturday may be your best bet to stand out.

My vote, however, goes to these kids!:

Billy Joel and Elton John to perform at Nationals Park in Washington DC this summer

As promised last week, the Washington Nationals announced today that the first-ever rock concert at Nationals Park will be a blockbuster.

Bill Joel and Elton John will perform at Nationals ParkBill Joel and Elton John will give a joint concert at Nationals Park on Saturday, July 11, at 7:30pm, as part of their Face to Face tour.

According to the Nationals, John and Joel “will open the concert together with a series of duets, playing twin pianos and trading vocals. Each artist will then perform a set with their own band. The grand finale reunites the two at center stage with their supporting musicians for a closing encore.”

Tickets go on sale on Saturday, February 28 at 10 a.m. through Tickets.com.

Nationals Promotion / Giveaway Schedule for 2009

The Washington Nationals today announced that almost all 2009 individual game tickets will go on sale Tuesday, March 3, and revealed the Nationals Park game day promotion/giveaway schedule for 2009.

In addition to the known dates and giveaways listed below, the “popular post-game events” such as Friday Night Fireworks and Sunday Kids Run the Bases will be back, but Saturday night movies were not mentioned.

2009 Washington Nationals Promotional/Giveaway Schedule

Mon 4/13 Opening Day Hat (first 20,000 fans)
Wed 4/15 Jackie Robinson Day
Sat 4/18 Magnetic Schedule/Frame/Car Magnet (first 20,000 fans)
Tue 4/21 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 5/2 Latino Heritage Day / Los Nacionales T-Shirt (first 20,000 fans)
Tue 5/5 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sun 5/17 Kids Drawstring Backpack (first 10,000 kids 12 & under)
Tue 5/19 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 5/23 Nationals Cap (first 20,000 fans)
Sun 5/24 Kids Jersey (first 10,000 kids 12 & under)
Tues 6/2 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Fri 6/5 Black Heritage Night
Tue 6/9 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Fri 6/19 Beach Bash / Beach Towel (first 10,000 21 & older)
Sun 6/21 Fathers Day / Gym Bag (first 10,000 18 & older)
Tue 6/23 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 7/4 Mini U.S. Flags (first 20,000 fans)
Sun 7/19 Kids Insulated Lunch Bag (first 10,000 kids 12 & under)
Tue 7/21 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 7/25 Eco-Friendly Tote Bag (first 20,000 fans)
Tue 8/4 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 8/8 Bobblehead TBD (first 15,000 fans)
Tue 8/18 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 8/22 Bobblehead TBD (first 15,000 fans)
Sun 9/6 Kids Run the Show
Tue 9/8 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Tue 9/22 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Sat 9/26 Gospel Music Fest Post-Game Concert
Mon 9/28 Team Photo (first 20,000 fans)
Tue 9/29 T-Shirt Tuesday (first 10,000 fans)
Wed 9/30 Fan Appreciation Day (giveaways TBD to 1st 20,000 fans)

Tickets to the highly-anticipated interleague series vs. the Boston Red Sox on June 23, 24 and 25 will not be made available on March 3 along with other series. The Nationals will be holding back those tickets until on or about the 1st of April in an attempt to sell more season ticket packages. When those individual tickets to go on sale, they will be available online only.

Nationals Park to host concerts in 2009

The Washington Nationals have scheduled a press conference for Monday in which they will unveil “Washington, D.C.’s biggest summer concert and
first-ever musical performance at Nationals Park.” Exciting news for the city and for the team. The Nats crew unfortunately needs more experience handling sold-out crowds, and this should expose more people to our great new ballpark, and how easy it is to get there.

Toe-to-Toe with Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Stan Kasten at first-ever NatsFest

Natsfest crowd at Nationals ParkNationals Park was abuzz with life on this cold winter day as thousands of Washington Nationals fans were drawn to the first annual NatsFest fan fest. For the ticket price of just $10.00, Nats fans were able to wander through the usually-restricted field level concourse, lounge in the home team clubhouse, sit in a $300+ Presidents Club seat, take a swing from live pitching in the Nats’ indoor batting cage, and mingle with the likes of manager Manny Acta, General Manager Jim Bowden, team President Stan Kasten, broadcasters, players, and more.

Jim Bowden answers questions from fans at NatsFestAs Steinberg documents well in this evening’s Sports Bog, the Q&A sessions with Acta, Bowden, Kasten, and Assistant GM Mike Rizzo were packed and lively, with numerous questions about the team’s off-season spending (or lack thereof); but Kasten also drew a number of terrific questions about the fan experience, and in what Steinberg called “perhaps the best moment of the day,” addressed the Teddy question.

Kasten told the crowd that he has been a visitor to LetTeddyWin.com. “I’m asked all the time about this Let Teddy Win stuff,” Kasten said, “and ‘Stan, when is Teddy gonna win?’ as if I’m Nostradamus or something like that. How could I know…? But I do know this: Law of averages says he’s gonna win some day, and the only way to be sure you’re here for when that happens is to come every night!”

Stan Kasten answers questions from fans at NatsFestKasten promised a number of changes to the fan experience for 2009, including expansion of the Red Porch to bring tables into the stadium seating area, centerfield plaza improvements to include a “fire pit,” and more food options including value meals at concession stands and “experiments with all-you-can-eat sections” on select game nights.

Kasten also shed some light on why the giant baseball that had been depicted above the Red Loft in pre-construction renderings of Nationals Park never appeared for the inaugural season, explaining that “something” would be installed above the red loft, but that it was pending negotiations with sponsors. Considering that Kasten oversaw the installation of the giant Coke bottle above Turner Field in Atlanta, it’s all making sense now.

The Washington Nationals Racing Presidents at NatsFestThe Nationals racing presidents were noticeably absent from the concourses and activities throughout the park, but could be found behind a door being guarded by Nationals mascot Screech in the “Kids Zone,” a large room in the stadium’s conference center.

Who knew ball parks had conference rooms?

Washington Nationals Racing President Abe Lincoln at NatsfestThe Kids Zone looked remarkably well-staffed and organized, with young Nats fans being entertained by Clint Khoury and the Nat Pack, plus racing presidents Teddy, Abe, George, and Tom, and activities including a moon bounce, wiffle ball, face painting, balloon animals, caricatures, and even a Guitar Hero arcade.

Most remarkable was that the kids zone crowd paled in comparison with the lines that formed for all the “adult” activities. Even the wait for a hand-painted caricature was minimal compared to the time people were spending upstairs waiting for a photo with Ryan Zimmerman. The kids looked like they were having a blast, though it made me nervous to see Abe Lincoln helping kids in and out of the moon bounce. I just don’t trust that guy…

Ideas to improve the Nationals Park experience

The Red Porch at Nationals ParkThis morning, Steven over at the Fire Jim Bowden blog posted his ideas for improving the fan experience at Nationals Park. Some of the ideas may not be practical, but I hope Stan Kasten takes it seriously. Some of the no-brainers include allowing fans to watch batting practice, and calling off the security guards when a fan throws back an opposing team’s home run. And yes, I’d like to know what happened to that planned big baseball over the red loft.

Possibly the best and biggest no-brainer of an idea is opening up the gates after the 11th inning and during the Saturday night movies. You’d be giving something away for free without cannibalizing revenues, boost concession sales, and specifically give back and build relationships with the community immediately surrounding Nationals Park. Check it out.

New Washington Nationals Season Ticket Partner Zone

I was intrigued by the Washington Nationals’ announcement today of the new Season Ticket Partner Zone, a matchmaking service where Nats fans looking to share their season tickets or join a current season ticket group can find each other based on factors such as number of games and desired seating location.

Washington Nationals Season Ticket Partner Zone

It’s a great idea that needs some work. For example, people searching for tickets must select the exact same criteria as people posting tickets. It would be nice if I could search on a range of criteria, such as seating section (instead of one section at a time) or number of games available (instead of picking a specific number). I also find it strange that the minimum number of seats you can post or search for is fourteen.

Obviously, with great seats having been available at the last minute throughout the 2008 season, plus the worst record in baseball and the economy in historically bad shape, the Nationals are worried about losing season ticket sales heading into 2009.
The Partner Zone may help, but as of the moment it’s pretty empty. Among my circle of season ticket holder friends, I know more people who are not renewing than plan to renew (in fact, my own group in section 128 is falling apart, and I’m debating whether to rebuild it or join another group).

Do you share season tickets? Have you had trouble keeping your group together for 2009? Will you use the Partner Zone?

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