Saturday, April 5, 2008
Oh Well...The New Nationals Ballpark
For the past three years I've been spending a lot of time at Washington Nationals games. When my spouse was deployed overseas, it was a great diversion to the stress and worry that accompanied that experience. After we separated, it continued to provide that feeling to me. The games at RFK stadium were never sold out, most nights there were 40,000 empty seats. There were thousands of $5 tickets available and you could move to a $20 seat with ease. A family of four could take the kids to see a professional sporting event and get some food for under $50. Obviously the clock was ticking on this arrangement, middle class people and lower middle class people would need to be excluded in the name of revenue generation. Last weekend the new Nationals ballpark was unveiled for the national opener (Boston had already opened the season in Japan). It got great reviews (more food offerings!! fans closer to the field!!, broader concourses!!). They still have $5 tickets but only a few hundred. Fans in the cheap seats are actually further away but rich fans are in fact closer to the field. Two stories of corporate luxury boxes are stacked beneath the cheap seats. Completely predictable but still disappointing to see this manifestation in person. I'll go to some games, but the park won't be the refuge that the old ballpark was for me. In all the hoopla, nobody will stop to think what was lost.