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Nationals Park
NatsTown, Washington's Newest Monument
Nationals Park.svg
Nationals Park 181.jpg
Location 1500 South Capitol Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Coordinates 38°52′22″N 77°0′27″W / 38.87278°N 77.0075°W / 38.87278; -77.0075Coordinates: 38°52′22″N 77°0′27″W / 38.87278°N 77.0075°W / 38.87278; -77.0075
Broke ground May 4, 2006
Opened March 22, 2008 (college game)[1]
March 29, 2008 (exhibition game)
March 30, 2008 (Opening Day)[2]
Owner D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission (DCSEC)
Surface Grass
Construction cost $611 million[3]
Architect Populous,
Devrouax & Purnell Architects - Planners
Capacity 41,888
Field dimensions Left Field - 337 feet (103 m)
Left-Center - 377 feet (115 m)
Center Field - 402 feet (123 m)
Right-Center - 370 feet (113 m)
Right Field - 335 feet (102 m)[4]
Tenants
Washington Nationals (MLB) (2008–present)

Nationals Park is the current ballpark for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball. It is the first LEED-certified green major professional sports stadium in the United States.[5] The facility hosted the 2008 season's first game (in North America), when the Nats took on the Atlanta Braves on March 30, 2008. The first game played there was a collegiate baseball game. The stadium is located along the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and replaced RFK Stadium as the Nationals' home ballpark.

The ballpark, designed by Populous (formerly HOK Sport) and Devrouax & Purnell Architects and Planners, seats 41,888 fans and cost $611 million to build.[3] The Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol building are visible from certain areas of the stadium.

The park's name echoes the original name of the early-1900s ballpark used by the Washington Senators/Nationals, which was called National Park until it was rebuilt and renamed Griffith Stadium. The name was originally a temporary name, as the Lerner Family had planned to sell its naming rights. When a strong bid never surfaced, the team chose to stick with Nationals Park.[1]

Contents

Location and transportation

Nationals Park is located in Southeast Washington, D.C.

Nationals Park is located just one block south of M Street SE, a main artery through Southeast and Southwest Washington, D.C. The ballpark is accessible from I-395 via the Southwest Freeway, and from I-295 via the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, which carries South Capitol Street across the Anacostia River. The Douglass Bridge was renovated so that South Capitol Street could continue at ground level past the stadium (it was previously 15 feet (4.6 m) above ground level).

The ballpark is also accessible via the Navy Yard station on the Green Line of the Washington Metro. Located a block and a half from the ballpark's gate in left-center field, the station is heavily used by fans on game day. Prior to the ballpark's opening, the Navy Yard station's ballpark entrance underwent a major expansion, with the relocation of the farecard mezzanine to street level, along with the addition of an extra escalator and elevator to handle the crowds.

The Nationals run a shuttle service (dubbed the "Nats Express") from parking lots at RFK Stadium on game day, given that parking in the immediate vicinity is highly limited. Several Metrobus routes and the DC Circulator service the park. Various other transit options have been proposed including a potential water taxi service from Virginia.

Cyclists are encouraged to ride to the stadium and are offered bicycle parking. Garage C, located next to the ticket windows along First Street, houses a free bike valet service where fans are invited to store their bikes for the duration of the game.

History

Construction

Nationals Park, under construction in September 2007, with the U.S. Capitol seen in the background

Financing for the stadium was expected to be provided by a banking syndicate led by Deutsche Bank. However, finalization of the financing deal stalled due to complex negotiations among the city government, MLB as owner of the team, and the bank. The bank requested a letter of credit or comparable financial guarantee against stadium rent to cover risks such as poor attendance or terrorism. The requested guarantee was $24 million, with the city requesting that MLB provide the guarantee. The financing situation was since solved and construction began in May 2006.

The site of Nationals Park was chosen by Mayor Anthony Williams as the most viable of four possibilities for a ballpark. The ballpark's design was released to the public at a press conference on March 14, 2006. Ground breaking was in early 2006. With an ambitious construction schedule of fewer than two years to complete the stadium, a design-build approach was selected to allow the architects and builders to work in concert with one another. Ronnie Strompf, the project superintendent, coordinated the efforts of numerous subcontractors on a daily basis.[6]

Opening season

Panoramic view of Nationals Park on its inaugural Opening Night, March 30, 2008

The 2008 Washington Nationals season was the team's first in Nationals Park. The George Washington University (GW) and the Nationals announced in February 2008 that the GW Colonials baseball team would play the first game in Nationals Park on March 22, 2008. GW played Saint Joseph's University in an afternoon game[1] and the hometown Colonials had a 9–4 victory over Saint Joseph's.[7]

The Washington Nationals defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3–0, in an exhibition game on March 29, 2008, in their first game in the ballpark.[8]

The Nationals opened the 2008 MLB season in Nationals Park with a rare one-game series against the Atlanta Braves on March 30, which served as the first official MLB game at the park. True to tradition, President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Nationals defeated the Braves 3–2 with a walk-off home run from Ryan Zimmerman,[9] giving the Nationals their first opening day win since moving to Washington. Chipper Jones of the Braves hit the first batted ball and first home run, while the Nationals' Cristian Guzman got the first base hit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Zimmerman's game-winning home run was the third walk-off home run in major-league history to be hit in the first MLB game played at a stadium.[10] The game was the most-watched MLB opening night in the history of ESPN.[11]

In their first season at Nationals Park, the Nationals finished with a league-worst record of 59 wins and 102 losses.[12] At home, they drew 29,005 fans per game, placing their average attendance at 19th in MLB.[13]

Pope Benedict XVI visit

Pope Benedict XVI traveled to Washington, D.C. in April 2008 and celebrated Mass at Nationals Park for 47,000 people on April 17. There were 200,000 requests submitted for tickets to the Mass.[14]

2009 season

Several ballpark improvement projects were completed by the Nationals during the off-season, including:

  • Expansion of the Red Porch restaurant in center field to include additional tables on both the concourse and field side. Glass windows on the concourse side were replaced with slidable garage doors, opening to a fenced outdoor patio. On the field side, the rear-most row of Center Field Lounge seats were removed, with an outdoor deck featuring tables and chairs installed in its place. New signage was added on the concourse side.
A Nationals vs. Diamondbacks Game at Nationals Park in 2009.
  • A large Washington Nationals hat was added above the entrance to the team store near the center field plaza.
  • New LED message boards were added over the roof of the Center Field gate, providing information and instructions to fans entering the ballpark.
  • New advertisement panels were attached to the face of the two garages in center field, with green panels being replaced by white panels. Additional panels showing the team's 2009 promotions and the current lineup were added to the western garage, facing the plaza.

Concessionaire Levy Restaurants replaced Centerplate as the provider of food and beverage at Nationals Park beginning with the 2009 season.

Death of Harry Kalas

Before the Nationals 2009 home opener on April 13, 2009 at 3 PM, longtime Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas was found unconscious in the Nationals Park press box at 12:20 PM. Kalas was rushed to George Washington University Hospital and pronounced dead at 1:20 PM.[16][17] A moment of silence was held before the game, followed by both Nationals and Phillies fans applauding Kalas in tribute. The Phillies played with a picture of Kalas in their dugout.

Randy Johnson's 300th win

On June 4, 2009, Randy Johnson became the twenty-fourth pitcher in MLB history to reach 300 wins when the San Francisco Giants beat the Nationals 5–1 at Nationals Park.[18] The game was scheduled to be played the night before, but was delayed due to heavy rain in the DC-area.

Adam Dunn's 300th Home Run

On July 4, 2009, Adam Dunn became the 123rd player to hit 300 career home runs. The home run came in the seventh inning in a 5-3 win versus the Atlanta Braves.[19]

Features

The exterior of Nationals Park

The ballpark has 41,000 seats and features 66 suites, all around the infield. Team President Stan Kasten also said that the team might sell the naming rights to the levels of the luxury suites, which currently bear the names of presidents Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. While the city agreed to spend up to $611 million, Kasten has stated that the principal owners, the Lerner family, spent tens of millions of dollars more on "jazzing up the park". The park has an out-of-town scoreboard, which is 102 feet (31 m) long, installed in the right field wall. The main scoreboard, at 101 feet (31 m) long and 47 feet (14 m) high, is more than five times the size versus the one at RFK Stadium.[20]

A seating view from center field. Nationals Park features a unique main entrance in the outfield.

On March 13, 2007, Kasten announced that not only was the Nationals new ballpark on schedule to be ready by Opening Day 2008, but that there would be a grove of cherry blossoms located just beyond the left field bleachers. Kasten stated that the cherry blossoms will provide a look that Americans associate with the nation's capital.

Other distinctive features of the ballpark are the views of the U.S. Capitol from the upper deck (now significantly obscured by a party pavilion built atop the parking garage at South Capitol and N streets) and the curly "W" logo mowed into the outfield. Several area-based food establishments have concession stands: Five Guys hamburgers, Ben's Chili Bowl hot dogs, Dogfish Head and Flying Dog Brewery beer.

"Screech" store

Screech, the Washington Nationals mascot before his 2009 growth spurt.

The ballpark features a make-your-own-mascot store for the Nationals' mascot, "Screech".

Luxury seating

Nationals Park features three levels of upscale club level seating.

Stars & Stripes Club

The largest of the three, the Stars & Stripes Club is a two story indoor lounge for fans with tickets in sections 206-221. The lounge is 33,000 square feet and features various food entities, live television broadcasts of the game on dozens of TVs, and views of the Anacostia River. Tickets have a face value of $55 each for sections 206-208 and 219-221, and $65 each for sections 209-218.[21]

PNC Diamond Club

The PNC Diamond Club, the naming rights of which were purchased by PNC Bank[22], is the mid-priced of the three. It is located between the two dugouts. Diamond Club ticketholders have access to the indoor Diamond Club, a restaurant with a bar and buffet. Each ticket comes with a $35 food credit, which can be used for the $35 buffet, the in-seat service, or any concessions throughout the ballpark. Those with tickets in the club also have access to the Stars & Stripes Club. Tickets have a face value of $175 each.

Lexus Presidents Club

The presidential seats are located right behind home plate and are the most expensive seats in the stadium. It also features an indoor lounge with a buffet, bar, luxury lounge, etc. Fans with tickets in the club can watch the indoor Nationals' batting practice tunnel and can watch the post-game press conference live. Ticketholders also have access to the other two clubs. Tickets have a face value of $325 each.

References

  1. ^ a b Major League Baseball (2008-02-29). "George Washington University baseball team to play first game at Nationals Park". Press release. http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20080229&content_id=2396380&vkey=pr_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was. Retrieved 2008-03-20.  
  2. ^ Ladson, Bill (December 18, 2007). "All eyes on Nationals to open season". MLB.com. http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071218&content_id=2330152&vkey=news_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was.  
  3. ^ a b Seidel, Jeff (2006-03-14). "New ballpark design unveiled: Nationals aiming to begin play in new stadium in 2008". mlb.com. http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060313&content_id=1348677&vkey=news_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was.  
  4. ^ "New Nationals Park: Quick Facts". Washington Nationals. http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ballpark/index.jsp. Retrieved 2009-01-22.  
  5. ^ Washington DC home to first "green" stadium in U.S. Reuters. March 28, 2008.
  6. ^ "Major League Stadium". Build It Bigger. Discovery Channel. 2007-10-17. No. 14, season 1.
  7. ^ "GW, St. Joseph's honored to open field". Major League Baseball. 2008-03-22. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080322&content_id=2451617&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb. Retrieved 2008-03-22.  
  8. ^ Phillips, Michael (March 29, 2008) "Nationals victorious in stadium debut". mlb.com.
  9. ^ "Nats' Zimmerman plays hero with game-winning shot in opener". ESPN.com. 2008-03-30. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=280330120. Retrieved 2008-03-30.  
  10. ^ More on Zim. The Washington Times. April 2, 2008.
  11. ^ Svrluga, Barry (April 2, 2008) "Nationals Park Debut sets ESPN record". Washington Post, Nationals Journal
  12. ^ 2008 Washington Nationals Statistics and Roster
  13. ^ Major League Baseball Attendance
  14. ^ Nadine Elsibai (April 17, 2008). "Pope Benedict Says Mass Before 47,000 in New Washington Stadium". Bloomberg L.P.. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a4XCdKnx9gfw.  
  15. ^ Mathis, Sommer. "Click Click: New Arwork at Nationals Park". DCist.com. http://dcist.com/2009/04/click_click_new_artwork_at_national.php. Retrieved 2009-04-09.  
  16. ^ Philadelphia Inquirer "Phils announcer Harry Kalas dies" Retrieved May 22, 2009
  17. ^ Phillies.com "Phils pull out emotional win over Nats" Retrieved May 22, 2009
  18. ^ Big Unit gets 300th win on first try
  19. ^ ^ Ladson, Bill (2009-7-4). "Dunn belts 300th career homer". MLB.com. http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090704&content_id=5690550&vkey=news_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was. Retrieved on 2009-07-04.
  20. ^ Giving You the Score, Plus a Whole Lot More - washingtonpost.com
  21. ^ http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ticketing/seating_pricing.jsp
  22. ^ http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2007/11/26/story4.html

External links

Preceded by
RFK Stadium
Home of the
Washington Nationals 

2008 – present
Succeeded by
Current
Preceded by
RFK Stadium
Home of the
United States Congressional Baseball Game

2008 – present
Succeeded by
Current

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