As first reported by the intrepid Dan Steinberg at The Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog, the Washington Nationals have instituted a policy change for Nationals Park beginning with the current homestand.
About 5 years ago, ushers assigned to the entrance of each section were issued red stop signs saying “Please wait for a stop in play,” as part of a new policy that restricted fans from entering their ticketed sections whenever a batter was in the batters box.
The policy was heralded by many season plan holders — particularly those whose seats were near aisles, with views that had been obstructed by constant fan movement.
However, the policy had also angered fans whose movement was restricted.
As somebody who has visited the park often with children (who tend to “need to go” more often then some of us), and who visits the presidents race finish line at every game, I regularly witnessed unfair levels of anger directed at ushers by uninitiated fans carrying arms full of hot dogs and melting ice cream.
Ushers also have had to hold back crowds so deep that most couldn’t see the field at all or understand why the line wasn’t moving, because a slow-working pitcher and a batter repeatedly adjusting his gloves were leading to at-bats approaching ten minutes in length.
Most major league ball parks do not have such a policy, but it wasn’t unique to Nationals Park, and while some fans have expressed anger about the change, the team is mum on the reason behind it. Rather than share their opinions, ushers have been asked to direct all comments to email@example.com; but as Steinberg reports and others have confirmed, the first two nights of the new non-policy have been described as “chaos” by some and have led to many complaints.
Nationals Park is known for it’s excellent site lines from all seats, but this policy change has clearly added a premium to those without an aisle between the seat and the infield.
UPDATE: Unconfirmed reports from Nationals Park suggest that the policy change was mandated by Major League Baseball representatives who visited the park this week. Only a handful of teams had such a policy.
For what it’s worth, it’s apparent that the new policy means that ushers at section entrances can no longer pay any attention to the game. With a continuous stream of fans, those ushers must keep their backs to the field full time now.
Top Photo: Washington Post