New Nationals Park Clubhouse Tour

Sorry it took me so long to share, but my tour of the new Nationals Park included some video as well. A lot of progress has of course been made in the short time since this was filmed.

As you can see, the views of the field from the main concourse are one of the best features of the new Nationals Park. It’s a great stadium for walking around.

Parking at Nationals Park – The Real Tragedy

Parking at Nationals Park – The Real Tragedy

As the inaugural presidents race at Nationals Park approaches, get ready to hear Stan Kasten shouting “Take Metro!” on every media outlet in town. Parking availability will be slim to none around the new Nationals Park.

Nationals Park South Capitol StreetAs somebody who used to leave his office at 6:30 by car, and be in his seat at RFK in time for the star spangled banner, this won’t be an easy transition. But it’s a fair enough compromise. RFK Stadium was unusually accessible by car for an inner city ball park, with major highways funneling right into a parking lot. We couldn’t expect the same to be true of any other location. The Navy Yard metro stop is close enough to the new Nationals Park, and there are tens of thousands of parking spots at metro stations. In the end, I could cry about parking availability all I want, but I doubt I’d want to be exiting Nationals Park by car, since (unlike RFK) I’ll be hitting surface roads with traffic cops and post-game crowds crossing streets. The thought sends shivers of FedEx Field flashbacks up my spine.

Nationals Park Parking GaragesNo, the scarcity of parking spaces is not the real tragedy here. The real tragedy is taking shape over the left and center field walls, where construction is almost complete on the two above-ground garages that were part of the deal with major league baseball to approve the stadium site. Everybody knew that above-ground garages would be unappealing, but in a classic case of bureaucratic decision making, that’s what got approved. Major League Baseball held fast to its deadline, the city and the team held fast to their budget, and the rest of us get stuck with these two ugly behemoths for generations to come.

View from the Owner's Suite at Nationals ParkAs unforgivable acts of civic shortsitedness go, this one tops my list as a Washington Nationals fan. When I learned of the plan to build these garages above ground, I was extremely disappointed, but when I saw them for myself on a recent tour of the new stadium, I was positively stunned. If they had to be above ground, did they still have to be right over the outfield walls by the stadium’s main entrance? The photo to the right is from the location of the owner’s suite behind home plate. Yes, that’s the U.S. Capitol dome being blocked by the new garage. Sure, they’re going cover the garage with advertising posters and plant cherry trees in front of it, but is this the DC skyline view we were promised?

Nationals Park Parking Garages over the left and center field wallsFor everybody’s sake, I hope that the team, the city, and major league baseball can start thinking beyond the outfield walls. The new Nationals Park should be a source of civic and fan pride, but that can’t come 100% from the amenities within the park. New ballparks should integrate and represent the neighborhood and the city, becoming attractions unto themselves, drawing tourists when they come to town, and driving ticket sales even when the team falls short of expectations. This isn’t rocket science. You don’t have to have the Rocky Mountains of Denver or the San Francisco Bay to pull it off. New ballparks have taken advantage of the comparatively nondescript skylines of Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee. You’d think we could have done better.

With luck, the new Nationals Park will pour in buckets of money for both the city and the Washington Nationals team, and additional parking options will built in the adjacent neighborhood in the next couple of years. Then perhaps we can have some serious discussions about ripping these things down and starting over.

Flickr photos by Scott Ableman

Nationals Park Photos

New Nationals Park

Nationals ParkIn today’s Nationals Journal, Washington Post beat writer Barry Svrluga finally got to show off some photos from his recent tour of Nationals Park under construction. Unfortunately, the Washington Post’s blogging function doesn’t give Barry flexibility to let you see much detail. I also wish Barry had gone into some more of the things that are designed to make Nationals Park unique.

I realized I needed to get off my butt and finally post some of the photos from my recent tour of the new Nationals Park. Yes, I had a private tour recently but have been too busy to add to the blog. Shame on me.

Some Highlights:

Nationals Park Scoreboard

Nationals Park ScoreboardOf course what everybody keeps asking about is the new Nationals Park scoreboard. Yes, it’s high-definition, and yes, it’s huge. At almost five stories high, it will be the biggest scoreboard in major league baseball.

Some have mistakenly suggested that it’s the biggest in all sports, but that honor goes to some of the newer football stadiums such as Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Still, on a square-inches-per-viewer basis I think the new Nationals Park scoreboard wins easily.

Nationals Clubhouse and Locker Room

Nationals Park Clubhouse
The update that the players are most excited about in the new Nationals Park is their home clubhouse. The locker room is spacious, and is surrounded by state of the art facilities including oversized whirlpools and underwater treadmills.

Nationals Clubhouse Svrluga noted that the new locker room was football shaped. The shape is said to promote team chemistry, with everybody facing in and no corners. What Barry did not mention is that the visitors locker room is less spacious, with a traditional rectangle shape. Anything to get a competitive edge in a series!

Nationals Park Bullpen

New Nationals Park Scoreboard from the Nationals Bullpen A highlight for me was a visit to the new Nationals bullpen. The team chose to put it’s bullpen in right field, just far enough over to still see the new scoreboard.

Most importantly, Nationals Park has a tunnel that connects the bullpen to the home dugout, which is on the first base side. This will enable players and trainers to move between the dugout, the clubhouse, and the bullpen during games if needed. The visitors dugout in left field has no such access. As with older ball parks, the visitors bullpen pitchers will walk across the field to the bullpen before the game, where, except for a bullpen telephone, they will be isolated for the duration of the game.

Nationals Park BullpenIt almost made me wish I’d requested seats in that outfield section along the bullpen wall. Is that Section 140? Some lucky fans on the ends of those aisles will be catching a few homers while chatting up the pitchers warming up in the bullpen. It’s a far cry from RFK Stadium, where the fans were so separated from the players out there.

Presidents Race Starting Gate?

Nationals Park from the Washington Nationals BullpenMy visit to the bullpen made me wonder where the racing presidents would enter for the presidents race at the new ball park. Assuming they will continue to race from right field towards home plate, the logic entrance would be from the Nationals bullpen. As you can see, it’s a long way to home plate from out there!

Enough for this morning. More photos to come soon.

Flickr photos by Scott Ableman

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