Nationals Park has been home to Washington Nationals of the National League since it opened in 2008. When the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington DC and became the Nationals in 2005, they played at RFK Stadium until the new ballpark on the shores of the Anacostia River was ready. These Nationals are the fourth major league team to play in DC and Nats Park has been my local MLB ballpark since I moved to the area in 2010.
Review by Gary
Seating just over 41,000, the open 360 degree concourse allows fans numerous vantage points from which to enjoy the game, whether you’re sitting or standing, close to the field or on the many concourses. Nosebleed seats in the upper deck are a good distance from the action, but they do provide stunning views of DC landmarks such as the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument. If you’re looking to get cheap General Admission tickets, the miniscule GA section in CF are only sold 2½ hours before the game and go fast.
Nationals Park features a tasteful Ring of Honor that lines the press level behind home plate featuring Senators players, local Negro League players and former Montreal Expo greats like Andre Dawson and Gary Carter. I think that recognizing the players from the Great White North was a classy thing for Nats management to do. Among the other unique qualities is the rough gray wall of blocks that encompasses the bowl at field level. This matches the curbs and bridges found in and around DC. Paying homage to the now demolished Griffith Stadium, former home of the Washington Senators, there is an odd right-angled jog in the right-center field fence.
The Nats have done a great job of creating an enjoyable experience at the ballpark. Free Wi-Fi is available all around the stadium and there’s no shortage of food and beverage selections from Shake Shack to Ben’s Chili Bowl (a DC favorite) to Haute Dogs & Fries, purveyors of upscale tubed meats like their restaurant in nearby Alexandria, VA.
A giant analog clock with the Nats’ curly “W” in the center sits to the right of the main scoreboard. For some reason, the clock once told time, but was deactivated and the hands removed leaving an odd piece of modern art. Two lone, white championship pennants fly high atop the right field stands; one for the Senators’ only championship in 1924 and the other for their American League title in 1925. One can only dream that the Nats can reach that pinnacle one day.
Nationals Park is a great place to see baseball, as long as you can actually make it to the game. The DC Metro is horrendous, despite two subway stops nearby. If the game runs late, especially during the playoffs, fans must decide whether to stay until the end or grab the last train out of DC because the system shuts down at 11 pm. Parking is limited and pricey, so the best way to get to the stadium is to park in the outlying areas and call a transportation company. However you get there, it’s worth your time to pay a visit to this great ballpark just down the street from the National Mall.
The Nats’ version of the mascot race, the Presidents Race, is one of the best in baseball, starring former US leaders with enormous heads. Be sure to be watching the field during the middle of the 4th inning. Fans root for Abe, Teddy, George, Tom and Bill for William Howard Taft. These august men race from centerfield around the warning track to the first base dugout. Two presidential atrocities were added and removed as Coolidge and Hoover failed to be re-elected after one season. Taft’s inclusion still remains a mystery. Each prez wears a jersey with his presidential term on his back. Not until the Nationals clinched a playoff berth did Teddy actually win for the first time, much to the dismay of the schadenfreude fans.