Friday, October 3, 2008

Nationals Park

Continuing in my series of reviewing Mlb ballparks (thus the name of the blog) I will do my best to review the new Nationals Park .

Scalping/Ticket Prices: B-
It would be hard to pick a sporting event where it was better to be a buyer than a seller than the Nationals-Padres game that M and I went to two weeks ago.  Let me count the reasons why demand would be low:

  • It was Sunday during football season and the game just happened to be at the same time as the Washington Redskins. Let’s just say the Nationals haven’t built up the same amount of fan interest as the Redskins.

  • It was as meaningless of game as any regular season game could be. It was within a week of the season ending for two teams that went on to lose a combined 201 games (winning only 122).

  • While the Nationals play in a new ballpark the park has rarely been filled close to capacity.

With that being written you would think that the scalping scene would be an A+ in favor of the buyers. The only reason it isn’t is because the scalpers were few and far between. I don’t know if it was because they were all applying their trade at the Redskins game, but I only saw 3 people selling tickets. I went up to one person and got tickets for 55% face value ($15 for $27 seats) and still felt like I spent too much. It turns out this guy wasn’t even a pro scalper and was just looking at unloading his season tickets, so that he could go enjoy the day anywhere besides Nationals Park .

The rest of the seats seemed reasonably expensive, but in reality it doesn’t matter what the ticket’s face value are until the Nationals become a better team and get more fans.

Aesthetic Appeal: B-
The ballpark is situated in the middle of a parking lot in the middle of construction just southeast of the National Mall. Let’s just say you don’t get the same feel walking to Nationals Park as you do Wrigley Field or even Safeco Field. The park is *nice once you get inside, but still leaves much to be desired. Sitting from our 3rd base seats all M and I could see where construction cranes outside the stadium. We moved to the 1st base side near the end of the game and over the left field wall you could see the US Congress.

My fault with this is that when you have the opportunity to build a stadium in Washington DC shouldn’t you face the stadium, so that you could see the Washington Monument from most seats? It just seems like facing the stadium away from the National Mall was a poor aesthetic decision.

*Don’t you love how when people describe someone as “nice” they almost always don’t really have many nice things to say about the person. It isn’t necessarily that they don’t like the person. It is just that the person’s characteristics are either extremely annoying or not especially noteworthy.

The reason for the B- is that I absolutely loved the scoreboard.

I was able to keep up with the score and situation for the Twins. Also, I was able to have a crystal clear understanding of the important information (count, outs, batting order, pitch count, etc) without having to look all over the ballpark. Also, a plus for the park would be the wide and open concourses. It was extremely easy to move around the stadium and not miss the game.

Thing(s) I wish I would have done:
Since my normal stadium is the Metrodome, I am not used to lots of food options. At the Dome the food options are Dome Dog with ketchup or Dome Dog with mustard. (Both are bad options by the way.) Anyway, just like Safeco I wish I would have tried more of the food options.

Fans: C

A friendly group of people, but really it didn't seem like anyone cared about the game. I mean I don't know if I would care about a Twins game if they were 30 games out of 1st place, but still these fans made more a lot more noise during mid-inning events with Clint than in anything that happened on the field. Overall I think the Nationals fans need a little bit more time and definitely a better team. The Nationals should hope to follow the Devil Rays formula.

Buzz: D-

There was no buzz inside the park. Outside in the concourse there was plenty of buzz around the Guitar Hero games, playground, and concession stands. On that September day Nationals Park was basically a glorified place for kids and their parents/babysitters.

Food: A-

Everywhere M and I looked there were different food options. Pizza, pretzels, fries, cheesesteak, Ben's Chili, etc, etc. Also, all of the food stands utilized alliteration, so bonus points in my book. The pletora of food options ended up flustering M and I since we didn't know what to get. The first food choice for us was the "famous" W pretzel:

This was recommended as the best thing to eat at Nationals Park by the NY Times. However, M and I would like disagree with the writer of the NY Times article. The pretzel was a fine thing to eat, but not something we would want to order again. We were now slightly disappointed, so we headed to the chili stand to get the largest order of chili-cheese nachos for only $9.50. I felt like this was a good choice and for awhile it was very appetizing. However, before we ever made a real dent in the fries we were tired of the soggy nachos. Overall M and I were disappointed with our selections and wish that we could go back in time and order something else. I am giving Nationals Park the benefit of doubt on the quality of the rest of their food since almost everything we saw (except what we got) looked incredible.

Fun things to do besides the game: A

See the buzz section for my analysis of the things to do beside the game. Also, add on the fact that you get your picture with the Lincoln, Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and Jefferson mascots. One thing to keep in mind is that all the fun things to do besides the game happen to take place in the park. The development around the park has yet to catch up to the fact that there is a Mlb stadium there. I guess that has something to do with all the cranes that you can see looking into the outfield. Hopefully, for the Nationals sake this part of DC will grow into a place where you can grab a beer and burger before the game.

Overall impression: B-

Nationals Park reminded me a lot of Great American Park in Cincinnati. The park was a decent enough park, but for whatever reason I felt like a new park like either one of those should be better. Everything objectively seemed fine, but still neither park really felt like it was that special. I don't want to discount Nationals Park since it was a very fun experience that I would definitely recommend. Again as written before it would be a great place to take kids with the amount of activities around the park. Also, whoever is in charge of the park made a great, fun experience that is extremely fan friendly. I guess that my overall impression of Nationals Park in one sentence would be: In every way the park is a fan friendly experience that meets expectations, but still leaves something to be desired.

1 comment:

Mary said...

I do not agree with this rating. Nationals Park was such a cool stadium. First of all, it was outdoors (bonus), had lots of food options (major bonus), and had more fun that I even imagined for the ADD kids of our nation's capital. Also, I didn't see your recap of you getting on the scoreboard for a give away that happened in our section. That was pretty cool. I think this stasium deserves a much better rating, B to B+.