Nats fans need a victory — Will Teddy deliver?

Washington Nationals racing presidents' Teddy Roosevelt at Nationals ParkThe Washington Nationals begin their home season Monday afternoon at Nationals Park against the world champion Philadelphia Phillies, and after an 0-6 start on the road against the Marlins and Braves, the question on the mind of some Nats fans is “Who will win first: The Nationals or Teddy Roosevelt?”

In the first three years of the Nationals presidents race, three different presidents have taken the season crown (George in ’06, Tom in ’07, and Abe last year), which begs the question: Will 2009 be Teddy’s year?

If the last two season openers are any indication, the opening day presidents race will be nothing if not entertaining. In 2007, Teddy was disqualified after flying into RFK Stadium on a zip line. On opening day 2008, Teddy was disqualified again for cutting across the outfield. If Teddy runs a clean race on Monday, we can hold out hope that a change of fortune is in store for 2009.

Nationals Park presidents race bobbleheadsIn April, there’s always hope.

If you don’t have tickets yet, grab your Let Teddy Win t-shirts and head down to Nationals Park tomorrow to take in all the changes at Nationals Park. The team may be having a rough start, but an afternoon at our new ballpark remains one of the best entertainment values in town, and it looks like tickets will still be available at the gate.

This year brings lower seat prices, more (and cheaper) open parking, open home batting practice, the renovated Red Porch restaurant, improved food concessions, the new statues installed in the centerfield plaza, and new 7-foot racing president bobbleheads in the Nats Family Fun Area — perfect for photo ops with Teddy (photo at right courtesy of Teddy fan Shanna Comai).

The centerfield gates open at 12:30pm, with festivities leading up to the first pitch:

12:30pm – Face painting & balloon artists, centerfield plaza
12:30pm – The music of Dr. Fu, new Centerfield Plaza Stage
12:30pm – The music of Road Soda, Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk Stage
12:45pm – Home team batting practice
2:00pm – Nats Xtra with Ray Knight and Johnny Holliday, centerfield plaza
2:35pm – David Gregory hosts pregame ceremonies with singer Patti Austin
3:05pm – First pitch

See you there!

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

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