Nationals Park introduces the 8-pound StrasBurger

The Nationals will offer a new menu item at Nationals Park in 2012: an 8-pound cheeseburger dubbed the “StrasBurger.”

The Washington Nationals have introduced an 8 pound burger called the StrasBurger (8 pounds including toppings and fries)The Red Loft and the Red PorchNationals Victory Knot PretzelTaste of the MajorsAs announced by the Nationals and first reported by Dan Steinberg over at the Post this afternoon, the burger will be available at the Red Porch restaurant in the centerfield plaza.

The Nationals said the burger weighs eight pounds total including toppings, and is made from a combination of ground brisket, chuck and short ribs:

“The burger is served on a large burger bun with our secret sauce, American cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions, pickle chips and served with a cone basket of fresh cut fries and a pitcher of your choice of soft drink. This signature dish is the perfect entrée to share at this affordably-priced family restaurant.”

This is the first time we’ve seen the Nats pitch the Red Loft as an “affordable family restaurant.” The price hasn’t been disclosed, but if you’re willing to share, it will likely be a value. An eight pound burger should be able to feed multiple families.

The new item builds on the appeal of the “Victory Knot,” the two-pound pretzel built for sharing that has been available at the Red Loft for the past two seasons. All we need now is a 200-ounce beer and Nats fans will have a value meal for the ages.

The Nationals also announced that the “Taste of the Majors” concession stand behind section 117 will once again get a revamped menu — a seemingly annual tradition. And once again, the team is attempting to do a better job of delivering on the original concept. That is, the stand will have a constantly-changing menu with a dish from visiting team’s city, available during that series only.

It’s a fun concept that’s hard to execute, but like they say, maybe the fourth time’s the charm. Let’s check out what they have in store for the Nationals’ 2012 season:

Atlanta: Smothered Fried Chicken Platter
Baltimore: Baltimore Pit Beef Sandwich Platter
Arizona: Arizona Dog Platter
Chicago: Chicago Dog Platter
Cincinnati: 5-Way Cincinnati Chili
Colorado: Colorado ‘Mile High’ Burger
Houston: Houston Nacho
Los Angeles: L.A. Dog Platter
Miami: Miami Cuban Dog
Milwaukee: Milwaukee Beer Brat Platter
New York (Mets and Yankees): Coney Dog Platter
Philadelphia: Philly Chicken Cheese Steak Platter
Pittsburgh: Pitts Burger Platter
St. Louis: BBQ Rib Platter
San Diego: San Diego Fish Taco Platter
San Francisco: San Fran Garlic Fries and Shrimp Platter
Tampa Bay: Tampa Salty Dog Platter

Hmm… Kudos to the Nationals and Levy Restaurant Group for continuing to try to make this concept work, but with more than half of the “regional specialties” listed as burgers or dogs, they might still have some work to do.

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

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…

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