UPDATED: The Washington Nationals completed installation of an exclusive new section of seats at Nationals Park just in time to reveal them at Tuesday’s annual media day.
With just eight seats, the new “Dugout Club” will be the smallest section of the park, available exclusively to members of the new MGM National Harbor casino’s MLife Rewards program.
In a press release Wednesday, the MGM called the “plush leather recliner seats” the “best eight seats in baseball,” but the location — just below ground level beyond the home dugout — could be of concern both to the fans behind them and the high rollers who sit there.
Fans who’ve held coveted season tickets along the railing since the park opened in 2008 were notified last week that the new section was being installed in front of them. The letter assured these season plan holders that their views would not be obstructed, promising that the team had “taken great care to ensure that the new club will not impact the sightlines from existing seats.”
But fair balls notwithstanding, photos suggest that it’s the wall built to a ramp leading into the section that could affect views into the dugout, the on-deck circle, and foul territory; and those fans’ days of reaching out to collect foul grounders as they skitter up the line are largely over. “We’ve had these seats since the park opened,” said one season plan holder in Section 134A who asked not to be named. “We love them because we feel like we’re on the field, and we get a lot of foul grounders. I hope this new section doesn’t take away from that. Seems like we’re now going to be looking over a concrete wall.”
As for the big spenders who’ll get access to those seats, they may be in for an unpleasant surprise on hot summer days. “It’s a great place to sit,” the season plan holder said, “but you’re really exposed and it can be brutal on a Sunday afternoon. We sometimes trade in our tickets on those days. Black leather could be particularly unpleasant. I hope those high rollers know what they’re in for.”
The new Dugout Club was installed where the Nationals Park grounds crew used to store the tarp, but with a wall and protective net in front of the seats, it effectively shrinks the ball park’s foul territory on the first base side.
Tickets for the MGM National Harbor Dugout Club include a “personal attendant that will cater to Dugout guests’ every need,” and will be exclusively available to members of MGM Resorts International’s M life Rewards who are at the Platinum level or higher, with 200,000 or more credits earned by playing slots and table games or by spending money at their resorts.