South Capitol Street Transformation
Remembering my youthful and infrequent visits to the old Griffith Stadium at 7th St. and Florida Avenue, I have been looking forward to an exciting new look in major league baseball in the District of Columbia. I was not disappointed.
In the past three weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit Nationals Stadium three times. It is a great improvement in every way from RFK Stadium and from most other stadiums I have seen. I recommend a visit before warmer days—and more wins—make it much more popular place.
The spectacular scoreboard catches your eye as you walk in. Fans have much more room to stroll around the ground level mezzanine while watching the game—and eating and drinking. All levels are much more accessible with elevators and ample restroom facilities with shorter lines.
And the field is beautiful.
Wide varieties of food and drink should allow the handling large numbers more quickly than RFK once the initial shakedown for the new staff is over.
For those of us who had grown accustomed to rickety seats with no cup holders, and a scoreboard with poor replay capabilities and limited information, the new facilities are very impressive. Seats are closer to the playing field than similar RFK seats.
Some kinks need to be worked out—and undoubtedly will. Scoreboard replays are too infrequent; pitch speeds are not always flashed on the screen-and no pitch descriptions (curve, slider, fastball) are offered as at Camden Yards. And the much-heralded views of the U.S. Capitol are only available from the more altitudinous seats.
Like Camden, some baseline seats face the outfield rather than being slightly turned toward home plate; some fans have to turn their bodies to see home plate. And during my last visit, the impossible flashed on the scoreboard: a batting average higher than the resulting on-base percentage.
Club seats, nice restaurants and somewhat shorter fences, plus uneven fence distances that make outfield flies and ricochets off fences more treacherous for outfielders all add to the excitement of a great new addition to Southeast Washington.
A community being built
Amazingly, significant change is already underway in the neighboring area. The Nationals Stadium has sparked the beginning of a revival. The warehouses, junkyards and vacant lots that characterized the area a few months ago are undergoing transformation reminiscent of the Verizon Center area. Vacant lots are surrounded by murals depicting condos, retail stores and office within a very short walk to a major league baseball game 81 days of the year—and more when the Nats make the playoffs!
Good seats are available throughout the stadium, and the Navy Yard Metro Station is virtually across the street from the gates. I hope to see you there.
One off-key note
When Mayor Fenty, who consistently opposed the new stadium and the funding necessary to bring major league baseball back to his city, took the microphone on opening day to celebrate the occasion, he failed to recognize the leadership of former Mayor Tony Williams in his successful efforts to do so.