Sunday, March 30, 2008

You try teaching a 6 year old the lyrics to Sweet Caroline

Perhaps a more skillful and tenured word surgeon would be better suited at expanding on the transportational and structural aspects of the new ballpark. Please feel free to seek their learned opinion. Below are my less scientific impressions based merely on the half capacity exhibition game against the O's on Saturday night.

It’s my guess that by tomorrow morning it will be widely reported that getting to and from the stadium wass a complete mess. I know the President won’t show up every time but even with the abbreviated crowds I dealt with all the Metro cars were filled and there wasn’t even enough room on the recently enlarged Navy Yard platform. And the suggestions to walk a few more blocks to the Waterfront-Station only resulted in sore feet and the same near-capacity trains.

Like I said, though, the transportation issues weren’t unforeseen. Nor are they fatal. But that’s only on the outside of the stadium. I think a large issue that the stadium officials failed to predict was those that arise from the concession lines. The queues for food extend directly into paths of those trying to walk around the perimeter of the field. I don’t know if this is the result of too narrow walkways or cash registered spaced too close together but it was very difficult to work your way around the main level. In fact, the line for Ben’s Chili Bowl was so immense and stuck out so far from the counter that it left about only about ten feet of maneuverable space between it and the first row of seats. And Ben’s is one of the first concession stands you walk by upon entering the main gate and the bottleneck was considerable. And it wasn’t isolated at that location either. Hopefully, the lines will move faster with some cash register practice. But if it was tough to move around 10 minutes before the game started and only at half capacity, fans may be in for a long season. Maybe it’s why they’re allowing us to bring in our own chow.

Honestly, though, these were my only two concerns. The stadium itself is awesome. It looks great, the sound system is considerably better than RFK and the score board is unreal. Some other impressions:

I’m not sure what the rules are scalping but the police were making big examples of the sad-sacks who were unfortunate enough to get caught. They made a very public show of handcuffing these sorry-looking fellows and then marching them up and down in front of people getting off the Metro. It also seemed that the blatant sellers received the brunt of the police’s attentions because I saw some discrete deals going down right under the fuzz’s noses. Stick to Craig’s list, fellas.

Speaking of which, I may have an extra ticket to the Monday New Pornographers show.

The Nats listened to complaints about the Verizon Center and made the seats big enough so even the skinniest adults don’t need a wedge and a can of Crisco to squeeze their way in and out. There didn’t seem to be a bad angle in the place and we tried quit a few seats on for size. We started in the up on the 300 level…

and then sweet talked our way into the Diamond Club level seats.

The padded seats were more than our frozen kiesters deserved. A little more massaging of ushers got us into the Presidential area and that was real classy-like. Monogrammed stadium seats?

Don’t mind if I do.

Let me present to you a little something I like to call Build-a-Screech.

Actually, that’s what the stadium calls it too. Anytime you can fork over $35 bucks for a small dog doll wearing red cleats that’s so cute it almost makes your wife cry, I’d say it was a success.

I didn’t do any of that so I wouldn’t know, but I’d assume as much.

Finally, I won’t lie and say I didn’t feel a sense of pride and ownership when I emerged form the Metro escalators and saw the stadium down Half Street. You can see it from Virginia where 395 peaks near the Pentagon and for the last 18 months our commute has afforded us an opportunity to watch it grow. And now that I’ve gotten a chance to walk around I get the sense that stadium has only just beginning to reveal its secrets. Nationals Park is finally the baseball stadium Washington DC deserves.

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